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6 Fun Science Experiments to Do with Snow

Whether your still stuck indoors or looking for something fun to do after a day of battling the elements to get to school/work, here are six fun science experiments to do in the wintry weather.

By
Sabrina Stierwalt, PhD
4-minute read
Episode #178

4. Make Maple Syrup Candy!

There are a multitude of recipes on the internet for using snow to freeze maple syrup, basically candy in its purest form. Most suggest using pure maple syrup (not the more processed kind with a bunch of additives) and boiling it before pouring the syrup over a clean patch of pressed snow. Of course, be very careful with the hot liquid! Exploring different recipes will show that some suggest adding butter or other additions to your candy pop. Press one end of a popsicle stick into the syrup and roll it around to collect the candy. Enjoy!

5. Set Up An Icy Archeological Dig

This is a great experiment for any budding archeologists, geologists, or scientists. First you will need to freeze a toy in a cube of ice. For your ice tray, you will need to use something larger than the toy itself, but not so large that you create an impenetrable ice block. Lego people make great toys for this experiment. To keep the toy from floating to the top, you can fill the container half way with water, place the toy inside, and let that solidify before adding the remainder of the water and freezing completely either outside or in your freezer.

Once your toy is settled in its icy block, experiment with ways to get it out. Is chipping away at the ice the best approach? How about adding hot water? You can also discuss how different substances melt (and freeze) at different temperatures. Adding salt to an icy driveway melts the ice by effectively lowering the freezing point of the water. Pure water freezes around 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), but salty water requires lower temperatures to freeze. Thus you can keep that ice in its liquid form for a larger range of (normal ambient) temperatures by adding salt. If your toddler loves hiding toys in play dough as much as mine does, this is a fun way to mix it up for the winter weather.

6. Make Instant Snow from Boiling Water

If you’re unlucky enough to be in very cold temperatures when it’s too cold even for precipitation, you can make your own using boiling water. Colder air has less capacity to hold water vapor than warmer air, so adding water vapor to cold air will cause that extra vapor to freeze out. You can create this effect simply by throwing a pot of boiling water outside in very low temperatures (we’re talking -30 degrees below zero kind of cold). The boiling water adds too much water vapor (the steam you see coming off of it) for the cold air to maintain in vapor form. Of course, be very careful not to spill the boiling water on yourself and pay attention to the direction the wind is blowing!

If you don’t want to venture into such extreme temperatures you can watch this video of this really cool effect instead.

Until next time, this is Sabrina Stierwalt with Everyday Einstein’s Quick and Dirty Tips for helping you make sense of science. You can become a fan of Everyday Einstein on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, where I’m @QDTeinstein. What are your favorite winter weather science experiments? Let me know at everydayeinstein@quickanddirtytips.com.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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About the Author

Sabrina Stierwalt, PhD

Dr Sabrina Stierwalt earned a Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrophysics from Cornell University and is now a Professor of Physics at Occidental College.