Stuck inside with the kids on a snowy or subfreezing day and don’t know what to do?
Beyond snow angels and snowmen, kids might appreciate these cold weather experiments, all supplied by Long Island teachers.
Pass the salt
You can bring the lab outside with this experiment — from Jill Johanson, director of STEM for Huntington Schools — that tests which material melts snow and ice best.
“Find an area equally covered in snow and/or ice and test the same amounts of table salt, kosher salt, sugar, sand, ice melt, baking soda or any other crystalline/powdery solids and time them to see which melts the snow/ice first,” Johanson says.
Turn water into snow
Andrew Cloud, who teaches earth and environmental sciences at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, says he loves to demonstrate for students how boiling water can be changed into snow. He advises that the experiment should be done only when temperatures are below 20 degrees and by an adult or with adult supervision:
- Boil water in a tea kettle or glass measuring cup.
- With gloves or oven mitts, bring kettle or cup of boiled water outside in an open space. (Check wind direction: Don’t pour boiling water into the wind.)
- Use a countdown for dramatic effect.
- Throw the water into the air — it will turn into snow, he says.
Make ice cream
For a fun (and tasty) learning experience, you might want to try Jericho High School chemistry teacher Theone Rinaudo’s ice cream recipe experiment.
The purpose, Rinaudo says, is to lower the freezing point of snow in order to make ice cream.
You’ll need: one quart-size and one gallon-size resealable plastic bag (freezer bags work best); 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract; 1⁄2 cup whole milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar; table or rock salt; gloves or mittens; snow.
- Mix vanilla extract, milk and sugar in a glass or cup and stir thoroughly.
- Pour mixture into a quart-size resealable plastic bag and zip closed.
- Fill a gallon-size resealable plastic bag approximately 3⁄4 full of snow.
- Pour 1⁄2 cup of salt over the ice in the gallon-size bag.
- Nestle the quart-size bag with ice cream mixture within the ice salt mixture in the gallon-size bag.
- Seal the large bag carefully!
- Put on your gloves.
- Roll or gently shake by moving the bag from one hand to the other. Do not squeeze.
- Add snow as needed while it melts.
- When the ice cream has solidified, remove the small ice cream bag. Wipe outside of bag to remove the saltwater mixture.
Create snow sculptures
A little less scientific, but no less fun, is Herricks High School art teacher Jennifer Cavalluzzo’s technique to create snow sculptures.
Cavalluzzo goes out with a tray, clay working tools (palette knives or small spatulas), spray bottles and containers filled with water and spray bottles filled with watered-down acrylic paint.
Using water to get the right consistency, she puts snow into the tray and molds it into the desired shapes, fine-sculpting them with the knives or spatulas. Various shapes are attached to each other by spraying water on them. Once the sculpture is completely formed, she colors them in using the paint spray bottles.
Try on blubber gloves
If you ever wondered how blubber keeps animals warm, make a blubber glove, says Donna Colavolpe, who teaches fifth-grade at Sunquam Elementary School in Melville.
All you’ll need are four large resealable plastic bags, Crisco and a large tub of snow.
To make the blubber glove, fill two of the bags 3⁄4 full with Crisco and seal closed. Place the two Crisco-filled bags into a third resealable plastic bag and leave open so you can place your hand in between the two Crisco bags, like a glove.
Next, place one hand in the plain plastic bag and the other in the blubber glove. Now place both hands in snow to experience how blubber keeps animals warm.