All year long, there’s always a chance to learn more about how the world works, and winter is no exception. Science is all around us – in snowflakes, in ice cubes, and even in your hot chocolate! The winter season provides lots of opportunities to try science experiments, especially ones that involve cold objects and the production of heat.
To start, check out these 3 sensational winter-themed science experiments!
Homemade Hand Warmer
When you’re out in the cold and your gloves aren’t warm enough, make these easy hand warmers in just a few minutes to get your fingers moving again!
The materials: Two Ziploc bags — one small and one large — and ice melting pellets.
The steps: Fill the large bag about halfway with the pellets and fill the small bag with water. Seal the small bag and place it in the large bag, and then seal the large bag. Make sure there isn’t much excess air, otherwise less heat will be produced. Finally, squeeze the large bag so that the small bag pops and the water can combine with the ice pellets. You should feel heat being produced for up to an hour!
The science: The combination of the pellets and water is what produces the heat. Most stores sell ice melting pellets made out of either magnesium chloride (MgCl2), sodium chloride (NaCl), or calcium chloride (CaCl2). When any of these compounds are mixed with water (H2O), an exothermic reaction occurs, which means that one of the byproducts of the reaction is heat.
Bubble blowing can be taken to a whole other level in the cold. Here’s how to turn regular bubbles into frozen masterpieces!
The materials: Water, dish soap, corn syrup, straws, rubber bands, and a cold, snowy day.
The steps: To make your bubble solution, combine water and corn syrup in a bowl. Then stir in your dish soap. Finally, cool your solution so it won’t steam in the cold weather. While the solution is cooling, you can make a bubble blower by tying straws together with a rubber band. For small bubbles, use only a few straws, but for bigger bubbles, you can use up 20 or 30! Once your bubble solution and blower are finished, take them outside and blow away! Let your bubbles sit on the snow to see turn solid and crystalize into beautiful shapes and patterns.
The science: The bubble solution is a watery, sticky substance. The combination of corn syrup and dish soap decreases the natural surface tension of water and allows the bubbles to stretch, expand, and stick together for longer. Also, when the solution gets cold, the water turns to ice and combined with the glucose (C6H12O6) molecules from the corn syrup, crystals start to form on the surface.
Here’s an experiment you can do even if it isn’t cold outside. Fizzy ice is a winter-themed experiment that young scientists will love no matter what time of year it is!
The materials: Ice cubes, baking soda, vinegar, and a large bowl.
The steps: This experiment is great because it’s so easy yet so satisfying! All you need to do is fill your bowl with ice and shake in some baking soda. With a spoon, mix the ice and baking soda together so that the baking soda covers most of the ice. Then slowly pour in vinegar over the top. You don’t need much vinegar at all, as even a few drops will produce an awesome fizzy reaction. If you’d like, add different food colorings to create a rainbow out of the fizzy ice!
The science: The acetate acid (CH3COOH) of the vinegar combines with the sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) of the baking soda to produce a reaction that creates sodium acetate (C2H3NaO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The reason the mixture fizzes is because the carbon dioxide is a hot gas, so the reaction produces bubbles at a high rate.
Have fun with these great winter experiments. Did your experiments look beautiful, or even explode? Catch some of your reactions on video and upload them to the Campfire!