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The materials required for this science fair project:

-    5 Elodea plants
-    5 measuring cylinders
-    A bottle of gasoline
-    A bottle of engine oil
-    A bottle of corn oil
-    A bottle of kerosene
-    1 liter of water


1.    For this science fair project, the independent variable is the type of oil covering the surface of the water i.e. gasoline, engine oil, corn oil or kerosene. The dependent variable is the reduction in the amount of oil in the measuring cylinder after 7 days. This is determined by measuring the level of oil remaining in the cylinder after 7 days. The constants (control variables) are the size of the Elodea plant, the size of the measurement cylinder, the amount of water and the amount of sunlight.

2.    The 5 measuring cylinders are labeled as “none”, “gasoline”, “engine oil”, “corn oil” and “kerosene”. The 5 measuring cylinders are each filled with 200ml of water.

3.    An Elodea plant is placed in each of the 5 measuring cylinders. The plant is completely submerged in the water. Then 5ml of gasoline, engine oil, corn oil and kerosene is added into the cylinders according to their markings. The cylinder marked “none” will not have any oil added.

4.    The 5 measuring cylinders are left in a place where they are able to receive enough sunlight. After 7 days, the level of oil that was added to the surface of the water is observed to ascertain if the level of oil has reduced or remains the same. The observations are recorded in the table below.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 7 days for observation
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements