What do you do when it is bitter cold outside? Freezing Weather Experiments of course!
This is fun for all ages. However, it can aid students with science fair ideas and homeschooling experiments, while fostering curiosity and creativity.
This particular day was -28°F (-33.3°C).
This instructable will show how to:
- Freeze Bubbles
- Crunch Frozen Bubbles (Surprisingly Fun)
- Transform Boiling Water into Snow
- Make Crystal Clear Ice
- Demestrate the Incredible Self Deflating and Inflating Balloon
- Discover Sun Dogs
Step 1: Freezing Bubbles
Trial and Error:
We tried regular bubble solution with mixed results. When we tried blowing bubbles outside, the bubble wand either froze to quickly, or the warm breath filled bubbles rose in the cold air to quickly to see them freeze. As you see in the video, what worked better was using a small cup that was half full with a water and dish soap solution. Then using a bubble wand to make and attach the bubbles to the top of the cup. To attach the bubble, the rim of the cup must be soapy. Using this method, you can position and observe the bubble easily.
Step 2: Transform Boiling Water Into Snow
There are just a few steps to this experiment. It works best when the outside temperature is well below freezing.
This is potentially dangerous and people have gotten hurt while attempting this experiment. Children need to have an adult do this for them.
First: You need to boil a small amount of water. I used a pot in the video, but a water filled mug in the microwave works well.
Second: Carefully, without burning yourself, carry your very hot water outside to a safe place.
Third: Here is the dangerous part. Toss the water up and away from you and other people. DO NOT toss the water above your head, because boiling water could fall back on you.
Fourth: Enjoy the white snowy cloud as it drifts away.
How does this Work
When you boil water, you're adding energy to water in its liquid state. That energy moves the molecules farther away from each other until the water vaporizes into a gaseous state.
By throwing boiling water into the air, the hot water separates and forms hot droplets.
Because they're so hot, those tiny water droplets start to vaporize quickly. But since cold air can't hold as much water vapor as warmer air, the water condenses. Extremely cold temperatures quickly freeze the water droplets, which fall as ice crystals.
Step 3: Make Crystal Clear Ice
- Small cooler with lid open or taken off
- A freezer large enough to put your cooler in, or freezing temperature outside
Impress you friends with "classy" ice in their drinks! :-)
To make DIY Crystal Clear Ice at home, all you need is a small cooler, water, and a freezer to fit the cooler in (or freezing outdoor temps). The trick is to let the water freeze from the top-down. This will help release any air in the water/ice. So, just leave the cooler lid open/off and let it freeze.
The first try only "half worked" but the second try was very clear! The only difference between my two attempts was the second one was left in my freezing garage instead of outdoors. Perhaps the wind and snow made the first try a bit cloudy.
After a day of freezing, take the cooler and carefully tip it over in your sink. It will likely only be about half frozen, so drain the water and the ice will fall out. Either, chip, break, or cut the ice to any size you like.
Step 4: The Incredible Self Deflating and Inflating Balloon
For this simple experiment, you only need a few items:
- One Balloon (latex or mylar) *A mylar balloon may be more obvious with the result.
- A cold environment (like outside in the winter, or your home freezer.)
- Kids around, so they can be make a hypothesis and be amazed.
Gather kids around to watch. Inside a warm room, blow up a balloon. Then place the balloon outside in the freezing weather or just in your freezer. Ask the kids what they think will happen to the balloon from being in the cold. Then after a short while, retrieve the balloon and show the result.
The balloon should have shrunk a little due to the air molecules in the balloon losing heat energy and moving closer together. But if warmed back up the air will spread out and expand the balloon again.
- It would be interesting to make a graph to chart the temperature and balloon circumference change.
- Using helium instead of air should give greater results and its buoyancy may change which would be neat to see.
Common Sense Note: If you put your balloon outside, make sure to tie it down. We tried to make a video to show this experiment with our only balloon, but it blew away.
Step 5: Sun Dogs, Sun Halo, and Sun Cross
If you are lucky, on very cold days you will see sundogs, a sun halo, and cross in the sky. This phenomenon usually only happens when the Sun is low in the sky, either in the morning or evening. Sun dogs are a concentrated patch of light about 22° to the left and right of the Sun. They are created when the sunlight refracts through icy clouds. The process is similar to a rainbow. The dogs can either look bright yellow like the sun or colorful, like pieces of a rainbow with red on the inside, toward the Sun, and blue on the outside. A similar phenomenon can happen at night with the moon. These are appropriately called Moon Dogs.
A Sun halo, a circle of light that creates a circle 22° wide around the Sun, is a related phenomenon. As with sundogs, ice crystals in the clouds refract sunlight to create the halo, sometimes also called an icebow.
Step 6: Contact Me
Thank you for viewing this project.
Feel free to comment and/or send me a message and I will do my best to reply. What is your favorite freezing weather experiment?
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