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Experiment: Magic Milk Planets

In this episode Guy Raz and Mindy explore the Who, What, When, Where, Why, How and Wow in the World of life on other planets. This simple experiment takes you to outer space and comes together easily using common household items you probably already have on hand. Give it a try and watch as colors swirl and dance around to make a colorful, dancing planet right before your eyes. (Download a PDF for this activity here).


  • a shallow dish or bowl
  • whole milk (must be full fat milk)
  • liquid food coloring (the more colors the better)
  • q-tips
  • dishwashing liquid


1. Pour some milk into your shallow dish until the entire bottom is covered with milk.

  1. Add a few drops or food coloring onto the milk, leaving some space between each drop. Be sure to use at least 3 different colors and 3-4 drops of each color.
  1. Dip the end of a q-tip into the dish washing liquid and then dip it into the food coloring in the milk and swirl it around. Watch as the colors dance across the surface of the milk creating a beautiful swirl design reminiscent of a faraway planet.

What in the WOW just happened?

While this experiment doesn’t require complex equipment, there’s still a chemical reaction going on behind the scenes. Milk is made up of water, vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. When the dishwashing liquid touches the milk it reacts with the fats in the milk. The soap molecules from the dishwashing liquid are trying to attach to the fat molecules in the milk which causes movement in the liquid as the molecules in the fat and soap bond together and expel the water and food coloring.