Go Fish, Go!GoFishGo_SuppliesCutout

Teach your children how surface tension works by making a paper fish, fueled by soap, swim across the water.

Fun Facts/Information:

  • Surface tension energy occurs all around us:
    • Water molecules like to stick together.
    • Some insects, like the water slider, can walk across water.
    • Leaves float and water forms droplets on things like pennies.
  • Cold water has more surface tension than hot water.


  • Fish template
  • Index cards or cardstock
  • Writing utensil
  • Scissors
  • Large, rectangular pan or cookie sheet (with one-inch high sides)
  • Water
  • Liquid dish soap


  • Gather materials.
  • Explain that the soap will act as the fuel for the paper fish, creating surface tension.
  • Trace, or draw freehand, a two-inch fish on an index card or cardstock.
  • Cut out the fish drawing.
  • Cut a small, rectangular slit in the back of the fish’s tail.
  • Fill the tray ¾ of the way with cold water.
  • At one end of the tray, place the paper fish in the water.
  • Place a small drop of dish soap at the back of the fish, where you made the rectangular slit.
  • Watch as the fish speeds across the tray!


  • Become an engineer by designing and testing different fish templates.
    • Draw your own fish. Do they all work the same? Do some work better than others?
  • Use various materials to make the fish.
    • Does the experiment work if you use an aluminum foil fish? What happens if you use a leaf instead of a fish cut-out?

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