It has been an unusual winter season for us here in Texas. We have now officially had 3 Houston snow events and well, that’s unheard of! I’m not so sure it doesn’t have something to do with the incredible hurricane event we had here last summer.
We decided to do a bit of science on this white stuff that we never see when school was closed. (Oh, it turns out that snow is actually not white… go figure!) Little did I know that doing this experiment was going to turn into a sibling rivalry with whose cup will freeze first.
What you need: two plastic or paper cups, water, salt
What you do:
Fill both cups with plain tap water
Stir in a tablespoon of salt in one cup
Place outside for a few hours in below 32°F weather (or place in a freezer)
Guess which one will freeze first
Here are our results. The red cup is plain water. The orange cup is salt water:
What is the science?
Salt lowers the freezing point of the water that it is mixed in. So if it takes water to freeze at 32°F and below then salt water takes much colder temperatures than that to freeze. This is why the ocean doesn’t completely freeze and also why we add salt on bridges and overpasses to help prevent ice from forming.
Andrew was most upset that his orange cup didn’t “win” the frozen contest. I thought he would think his cup was the most interesting. Turns out he didn’t think it was so cool…. (get it!? cool…but I digress.)
It has been an unusually cold winter season as most of you know. I’m proud to say along with our snow from the “North Pole” that we have Texas snow with a (bit of mud and grass in it) in our freezer.
I’ll admit I struggled with science I could do with the kids when it was so cold outside because, well, we rarely see snow! But I always love turning to one of my favorite scientists Janice VanCleave for inspiration. Here is a simple chemistry experiment you can do either on a cold winter day or in your kitchen to create a tiny genie in a bottle!
What you need: glass bottle, quarter, water
What you do:
Put an empty glass bottle (without a cap) in the freezer for at least 10 minutes
Remove the glass bottle and place a wet quarter over the opening so there are no spaces which traps air in the bottle
Observe what the quarter does if you leave it alone. Observe what the quarter does if you place your hands around the neck of the bottle
Don’t blink … the tiny genie is quick! Check it out and make sure the sound is on.
What’s the science: Of course this is not a tiny genie… it’s science! But what a fun trick to play on our kids or friends! We can touch the bottle and know it’s cold but the air inside the bottle is the same temperature. The quarter over the opening traps this cold air inside the bottle and when the air warms up it expands and wants to escape. We thought our genie sounded like he was burping! The genie is really just the air returning to the temperature of it’s surroundings!
Our elf just raided my science supplies and came up with some fun easy experiments to show the kids during Christmas! I hope it inspires your elf too!
Elf in Slime
As it turns out, elves can’t resist playing with slime! Our elf found our slime stash from Halloween and decorated the container with a cute elf belt! Here is a great slime recipe here.
A fizzy Christmas countdown
Elves are just as excited as we are to help the kids countdown to Christmas. She left a balloon filled with baking soda and a bottle of vinegar so when the kids come downstairs in the morning they can blow up the balloon to see the magical message appear! Here’s how our elf prepared this experiment!
Elfish States of Matter
Elves know that Texas kids don’t get to see much snow. So ours brought some from the North Pole! The only trick is we have to keep it frozen! What a great lesson on states of matter!
Imagine all of the science and engineering that goes on in Santa’s workshop. On this day our elf taught us that jingle bells are made of metal which a magnet is attracted to. One of my favorite things my kids said this day was, “Wow, I didn’t know jingle bells would stick to magnets!” It gave us a reason to explore what else magnets can stick to!
Elf 3D Model
Elves must have a lot of spatial skills to build all of the toys for Santa. Here is our elf showing us how to build 3D shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks! After we found our elf we promptly started trying to build the same structure shown here.
We have loved having our elf show us so many neat science experiments this Christmas! We hope your elf will bring a little easy science to show your kiddos too! It really is the most wonderful time of the year!
I have unintentionally started a new tradition at our house by making science related ornaments for the past three years. The kids have enjoyed making Borax crystal ornaments because they have an ‘overnight’ transformation that is really quite amazing. See our past ornaments here and here.
This year I was looking for an easy unique gift to give to science loving teachers, family, and friends. I ran across these mini terrarium bulbs and some Christmas-y succulents and voila! we have our easy science ornament for this year!
Science camp is all about learning the laws of motion but someone wants to put the brakes on Camp Eureka for good. Can 9 year old science whiz Halley Harper find the culprit by using her knack of turning ordinary into the extraordinary? Will she find out who is sabotaging the experiments before anyone else gets hurt and camp closes forever?
Do you want your daughter to say she loves science? My book is your guide that will get you excited to share science with her. It is not your ordinary science book because it will get you thinking, laughing, and pulling out your baking soda and vinegar just for the fun it. This book is here to cheer you on while you try science with your daughter. (Click book image to find it on Amazon!)