Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Science for Children - Making Icicles

I saw an experiment for making icicles, that sounded like fun, and thought we'd try it for Science Sunday.

Our neighbor always grows spectacular icicles, off the eave of his house. But, our house has a different roof line, and sits at a different angle to the sun, so we almost never get any.

Following the experiment instructions, we (meaning the Man of the House) drilled a small hole in the bottom of a coffee can. I was originally going to use a hammer, and nail to make the hole, and that's why they are pictured.

We also drilled four more holes around the top edge of the can, for hanging.

E, threaded, and tied a piece of yarn through each hole. Then, we tied the loose ends of yarn together, so we could hang the can on a hook outside the front door.

But first, we filled the can with water.

Then, we hung the can outside, where the temperature was reading 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The water emptied, in a steady stream from the can, without freezing. Though, it did freeze instantly, on the sidewalk below.

We thought maybe the problem was, that we had made the hole too big, so we plugged it, partway, with a piece of tape, and refilled the can with water. The water dripped slowly...

...but this morning there was still no icicle. There was a tiny lump of ice on the tape, and a layer of frozen water, inside the can.

We thought about our neighbor's icicles, and realized, they generally form on cold days, when the sun melts the snow, and the water drips down the eave of the house. We thought maybe we needed something for the water to run down. So, we taped a piece of yarn under the hole, cleared the hole of ice, and refilled the can.

When we came home from church, we found an even more ice covered sidewalk, and an empty can, with an ice encased piece of string hanging from it. And, at the bottom of the string was one, small, frozen drop, hanging down.

It might not be an icicle, but it's getting closer.

We've talked through a few more theories, and have some ideas on what to try next. I'll let you know if we meet with any success.

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

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

This is so cool. I love the thinking and experimenting. It is science at its best. It is the process, not the final results that matters. You are truly teaching your kids to think.

Casey said...

I've been reading your blog for a while, but I don't often leave comments. I wanted to tell you today that I LOVE your blog. Thank you for sharing your homeschooling experiences. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

I think this post is great! I think it's so important for children to see adults trying something, not succeeding, trying a new theory, and adapting as the situation dictates. I was really interested in seeing the icicles you grew, but I think it's probably even more valuable for your children to see you (and to do it themselves) work through the process of problem solving when something doesn't go as planned.

Lady Chadwick said...

Love all the fun to make it work!

Kristi said...

I am looking forward to passing this idea on to my families. Love the experimentation. Thanks for sharing.

Christy said...

I hope you can make it work! Cool process. I love the photos of the man of the house, even though I can't see his face. Does he prefer to remain anonymous, like my husband?

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Christy - He doesn't really care - just happened to be the way I took the shot - there was probably a mess on the counter, I was trying to avoid :)

Ticia said...

The things I miss not living in cold weather.

I'm thinking of making diaper snow again........

Rachel said...

I wonder if putting the drip super slow and warmer water with the drip at the edge? Maybe a much bigger bucket. And it might need a flatter surface? Maybe a hole a bit above bottom level on the side of the can?

I can't wait to see what happens - it's far too warm here for such a cool experiment.

Debbie said...

I love all the thought that is going into this. I read this last night and began to think of ways you might accomplish this. I was wondering if the heat from the house has any bearings as well as the elements from outside? I hope you are able to figure it out and come up with an icicle.