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In this activity, students create a single layer of detergent molecules on water and use measurements and calculations to determine the length of the molecules.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • briefly explain the difference between hydrophilic and hydrophobic parts of a detergent molecule
  • explain how to get a single layer of detergent molecules on a water surface
  • use simple measurements and mathematical equations to calculate the length of a detergent molecule.

Download the Word file for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • student handout.
    Published 28 May 2008, Updated 11 April 2014