Saturday, December 4, 2010

Black and White, Simple Winter Science for Kids

The sun was out today, and so were the children. So, it seemed like a good time to combine some much needed rambunctious play, with a simple, Science Sunday lesson.

First, the girls helped me put out two plastic garbage bags, one white, and one black. Then, we checked the temperature - it was cold, though balmy in comparison to some of the temperatures we've had lately.

We moved the thermometer onto the black bag, and watched the temperature rise, right before our eyes. It was really neat.

We tried it out on the white bag too, but it didn't drop as quickly as I hoped, and since the girls were raring to go, we moved on to the next part of the experiment.

I filled the bags with air, by twirling around with them, and then quickly tied them shut, balloon like.

The girls happily bopped them about, for a half an hour, or so, while I supervised to make sure they didn't try to suffocate themselves with them.

Then, we untied them, and they felt the air inside. The air in the black bag was significantly warmer, than the air in white bag, which felt pretty much like the air outside.

We talked, quickly, about how black absorbs the light energy (heat) from the sun, while the white deflects it. Then, they asked to have their balloon bags refilled, so they could keep playing. Since the bags were in use, we moved the thermometer, which had had a chance to return to its correct temperature, onto a sheet of white paper.

The temperature went up a little, on the paper, from what it had been sitting directly on the snow, allowing for a short discussion about insulation, but it was not as dramatic a rise, as we had seen with the black bag.

At that point, one of the bags got bopped over the fence into the neighbor's yard, and I decided it was time to end the lesson, before that became the new game of choice.

For more fun with science check out this week's Science Sunday link-up, at Adventures in Mommydom.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Ticia said...

WHat a great lesson. And for some reason I'm typing duplicates of my letters.

I love that thermometer.

Joyful Learner said...

This is most excellent! Such a great way to teach the concept! Next time we go up to Tahoe, I'm bringing my garbage bags and a thermometer. Thanks for sharing!

Phyllis said...

We did this once at a co-op and our temperature difference wasn't much either. I am glad that it wasn't just me.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Phyllis - I think next time we'll start with the white bag, and then move to the black.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Hmm... The first part should work with any temperature, I think. Great experiment to explain why people wear light clothes in the desert regions.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Raising a Happy Child - Yes, we've done this in the summer before, infact. But, I wanted to bring home the fact, that it works in cold weather, too.

Christy Killoran said...

This is the coolest experiment. You are brilliant.

Elise said...

It would have been fun anticipating the results and then testing them. I like the idea of actually feeling the air inside the two bags to compare the temperatures.

Unknown said...

This is a really cool experiment! I was reading your comment over at Ticia's blog. I am so glad you shared this experiment. I definetly can do this with my daughter, who wanted a white winter coat. Thank you for sharing.

Cindy said...

I would love to feature this experiment as a guest post over at Shining Dawn Books.

We typically post an article in it's entirety, including most photos. We include a little bio and photo of the author and link at least a couple of times to your blog.

Let me know what you think. Cindy

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Cindy - That sounds great - I'd be happy to have you use the post.