Alien Soup – How to Separate Mixtures

How to separate mixtures

“Alien soup” is a fun way of learning how to separate mixtures using scientific processes.

What you need

  • rice, sand, salt, paperclips
  • water
  • glass, spoons, sieve, magnet, filter paper
  • saucepan
  • lid of a larger saucepan
  • dish to collect water drops (large because you don’t know exactly where they’ll land)
how to separate mixtures

What you do

I gave the children a copy of the Alien Soup “recipe”. (You can obtain the printable by registering on the TES website – it’s free.)

C(9) and J(8) mixed up a spoonful each of rice, sand, salt, 10 paperclips and 100ml of water.

Then they read …

“Oops! We added too much salt! We need to separate out all the ingredients and start again!”

You should have seen the looks on their faces at this point.  “What? How are we going to separate that?!”

It was fun watching as they gradually figured out how to separate each ingredient.

Separating the mixture

J(8) remembered how we’d removed paperclips from water when we had our magnet morning.

how to separate mixtures
Using magnetism to remove the paperclips
how to separate a mixture
Then they sieved out the rice
how to separate mixtures
and used the filter paper to remove the sand

What next?

“Hmmm. The salt is dissolved in the water! How do we get that back out?”

Then C(9) remembered how J(8) had done exactly that earlier this year. (A project he’d asked to do while browsing our Science Experiments book.)

They heated the salt solution in a saucepan, capturing the evaporated water on the oversized lid. The condensed water was then collected as it dripped off the lid.

how to separate mixtures
Separating water and salt

I hadn’t been sure how C(9) and J(8) would get on with this activity. I knew they’d enjoy it, but I thought I might have to help them more than I did.

Seeing how they confidently and intelligently tackled the puzzle reassured me that our science un-curriculum is still working well.


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14 thoughts on “Alien Soup – How to Separate Mixtures

  1. It’s fantastic to see how the children are so engaged in their learning via discovery. I suspect that you’ll increasingly find more instances that tells you that your science un-curriculum is working very well. 🙂

  2. This looks like such a fun experiment – and it must have been rewarding for all of you when the kids figured out each step! There’s no doubt your un-curriculum will continue leading them to discover and make connections about the various elements of science while enjoying themselves – sounds perfect to me! (Fun alien font by the way)

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