Sunday, January 3, 2010

Freezing Rain and States of Matter for Science Sunday

I had planned a Science Sunday experiment with supercooled water droplets (an idea I found here, at the Exploratorium site) to explain how freezing rain is formed. But, I ran into a bit of a glitch, when my only two takers for science fun, were my two youngest. Maybe, I was being optimistic to think I would be able to pry the older children away from the Wii so soon after Christmas.

The younger girls were quite gung-ho though, so we started out proceeding as planned. They placed droplets of filtered water onto plastic wrap, pulled tight over the top of a bowl.

We placed the bowl in the freezer, and checked it every minute until, after about 4 minutes, one of the droplets had frozen.

Then, we pulled the bowl out of the freezer, and touched each of the supercooled droplets with a piece of ice, and watched, as they instantly froze. The little ones were intrigued, but really they were more excited about handling the ice, and playing in the water - so, we switched gears.

As they handled the ice, we talked about it's solid form, comparing it to other solid objects like the floor, and table.

The girls observed how the ice melted in the warmth of their hands, and turned into water. So, we talked about water being a liquid, and discussed other liquids, such as milk, or juice. We talked about how when water is a liquid, it's good to drink, pour, and swim in.

Then, we moved to the stove, and watched as the water got hot, and turned into steam, or a gas. You'll notice in the picture, that the girls arms are straight at their sides. I don't usually let them get so close to a hot stove. They were a little disappointed that I wouldn't let them play in the steam, but obeyed, and kept their arms down.

When I removed the pan from the heat, we watched as water droplets formed on its sides, as the steam cooled, and the water returned to a liquid state. Finally, we poured the water back into the bowl, and placed it in the freezer, so that after nap time, they can observe the water back in its solid state.

Needless to say, they weren't very happy to have to wait, but after the whole hands-near-the-stove segment, I was very ready for a break.

For more Science Sunday projects, click over to this weeks link-up at Adventures in Mommydom.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I really love your experiments - I also plan to do something with ice soon. It's awesome that the youngest were so very interested in it.

Ticia said...

It's so hard to keep their arms at their sides. My kids struggle with that one whenever we do experiments.

Julie said...

This is a great project. I covered ice/snow and water with the kids a couple weeks ago, but didn't venture into the steam part. By the way, I have an award for you on my blog: