Sink or Float with Oranges

My kiddos are always up for fun Science activities, and when I saw this Sink or Float with Oranges experiment on Pinterest, I knew we had to give it a try!

Science Experiment Sink or Float with Oranges

Does It Sink or Float?

The question we’re answering with this experiment is whether oranges sink or float. And while that’s an interesting question to answer, we’re taking it a step further and finding out what happens with a peeled orange versus an orange that still has its peel.


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Sink or Float with Oranges

Step One

First, fill large two glasses of water about 3/4 of the way full. If you don’t have a glass that will fit a small orange, two cereal bowls will work great too.

Step Two

Next, grab two Halo mandarin oranges. Leave one orange as-is and peel the other.

Step Three

Now that our supplies are ready, it’s time to talk about what the kids think will happen when we drop the oranges in the water. Some guided questions you can ask include:

  • Will the orange with the peel sink or float?
  • Will the peeled orange sink or float? 
  • Why do you think that?

Step Four

If you’re homeschooling an older child or want to get more in depth, have them draw a picture or write a few sentences about what they think will happen and why.

Step Five

It’s time to find out! Take turns carefully dropping the oranges in the glass of water to see what happens. Discuss the results.

Sink or Float with Oranges - Science Experiment by This Little Home of Mine

Sink or Float Activity Results

Drum roll please… And the answer is: the orange with the peel floats and the peeled orange sinks!

Sink or Float with Oranges - Science Experiment by This Little Home of Mine

What’s the explanation?

It’s all about density in this sink or float Science experiment!

The unpeeled orange floats because the rind is very porous and filled with tiny pockets of air. Even though you’re removing mass when you peel the orange, the peeled orange is more dense and sinks in the water. Steve Spangler

Science Experiment Sink or Float with Oranges

Kids will love watching what happens, and they will get especially excited if their scientific guesses are correct.

To help you get your own float or sink experiment together, I’ve created some free sink or float worksheets to use to record predictions.

Science Experiment Sink or Float with Oranges

Can’t get enough? Try it again with lemons and limes to see if you get the same results! 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out how we made balloons magically expand.

Expanding Balloon Science Experiment by This Little Home of Mine

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  1. We just did several sink/float experiments in our homeschool co-op. My favorite was making the egg float (adding salt to water to increase the water’s density). The kids liked figuring out how to sink a marshmallow.

    1. says:

      I need to try both of those with my boys! They would love that! Anything with water is a hit around here! 😉

  2. We’re getting delicious oranges now in the spring time (southern hemisphere!) , would love to try this out with my son

    1. says:

      Yum! I bet they are delicious!

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