Sinking Satsumas

A quick activity to keep the little ones entertained while you are making dinner or need 5 minutes to have a cup of tea. Especially good if they can peel the satsuma themselves as that will keep them busy for at least a couple of minutes longer!

What you need:

  • Satsuma/orange/clementine (essential).
  • Jug of water (essential – can use anything with water in but best to be transparent so that you can see what is happening easily and also needs to be big enough for the satsuma to move up or down).

What to do:

  • Pop the satsuma in the jug and see what happens.
  • Peel the satsuma and pop it back in to see what happens now.


The science bit

The skin has lots of air pockets in it, making the satsuma float. Take the skin off and it will sink as it doesn’t have this buoyancy aid anymore.

Explaining it to children

The skin acts a bit like arm bands or a floatation aid that you might have used at a swimming pool. The air inside these things help to keep you afloat while splashing about in the water. Remove the arm bands/float/noodle and you will sink.


Experiment based on an activity from the fantastic Usborne Activities: 365 Science Activities book.

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