Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Experiments

My six year old daughter often asks if we can do experiments.  That is where the bath fizzies were "born". And that got me thinking about what we could do with the plethora of cold air we have outside these last couple of weeks. We haven't seen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit in days with temperatures regularly dipping down to -15.  It is bad when you have reached the point where you have to specify "above" or "below" zero when referring to temperature.

Anytime a child asks to do experiments, go for it.  You cannot start of love of science, or math for that matter, early enough.  And by experiment, I don't mean anything difficult, time consuming, or dangerous. Just something to get the kids thinking about how things work and asking questions.
For our first experiment we made ice cream.  We took a metal mixing bowl and put in about 2 cups of heavy cream, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup white granulated sugar.  I beat the mixture by hand with a whisk for a couple of minutes until it got a little frothy, just like making whipped cream.  At the last minute I squeezed in some chocolate syrup, cause I am a purist like that... that and I love chocolate.  Then we covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it outside on the front porch.  I went out and swirled it around a couple of times while it was chilling.

In about 2-3 hours we got a nice soft ice cream.

It was yummy but still pretty soft.  More like a chocolate shake than a bowl of ice cream.  That, however, did not stop us from eating it!
We then put the metal bowl back outside overnight.  The next day we had a solid, scoopable ice cream.
There are many fancier and more well thought out ice cream recipes out there.  But this was a fun project for my little budding scientist.

The second experiment we tried was to freeze water balloons.  I have seen the picture on Pintrest enough times where they froze big balloons full of water and food coloring that I wanted to try it myself.  Using my daughter's curiosity as a front, we gave it a go.

First a word of warning.  This can be a big mess.  You have to fill the balloons with water.  And you need to put the food coloring in the balloon before filling with water.  So if the balloon pops or springs a leak while filling with water, or carrying to the door, you will have colored water everywhere.  This did not happen to us but it could have.  
We put food coloring drops in three balloons, purple, blue, and green.  And filled them with water.  The balloons I had on hand are large party balloons but given my fear of the "big mess" and because they are designed for air or helium, not water, I did not fill them up very much.   I would have done more but I dyed my fingers purple and am not very good at tying balloons, so three was enough.

We put the balloons outside in the snow, in the grass to freeze.  Do not put the balloons on stone or cement or any walkway that might get stained by the food coloring.  We have all stone and cement paver walkways so we put the balloons safely in the snow in the grass to prevent staining.

In the above picture you can see two of the three red balloons.  The middle blue one popped before I could get the picture of the three balloons.  I didn't take a picture of the unfrozen balloons when I first put them out because it was dark and below zero.
The next day when I went to remove the red balloon to reveal the colored ice spheres, I found that they were not completely frozen. There was a little pocket of water down underneath the ice sphere.  So when the balloons were popped, this colored water spilled onto the snow.  Again I am glad I didn't put them near the driveway. My daughter thinks they are super cool.
The third experiment we did has no pictures.  But what we did was take a pitcher of water out into the dark cold night and throw the water into the air.  It was about -15 degrees outside.  The water froze into snow instantly causing a little mini-blizzard in the air before falling to the ground.  No water hit the ground which is the coolest thing.  Usually we have to wait until a couple of weeks in February for it to be cold enough.  Not this year!  We have done this trick for visiting family and friends many times.  Their reactions are usually the same, "That is so cool! Can we go inside now?"

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Have some fun and try some experiments with your family.

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17 comments:

  1. Your experiments sound like fun. I am sure daughter loved them. The balloon one was my favorite.

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  2. Dawn, the balloons are a hit. There is a house near my daughter's school who keeps putting them out. Interesting, the food coloring fades over a few days. It must be from being in the sun. The kids love these frozen colored balls of ice. Thanks for the comments.

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  3. How fun! This would be fun to do one our front lawn, then we can watch from inside as it slowly melts. Wonder if I'll end up with purple grass in the spring? lol Pinning

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    1. Well if you do get purple grass, that might be sort of cool!

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  4. These are great experiments! I pinned this to my "children" board on Pinterest.

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    1. Thanks for the comment and the Pin Bonnie.

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  5. Too cold :) Glad you are having fun while keeping warm! pinned!

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    1. We are trying to stay warm. Not always successfully. So to beat cabin fever, we had to come up with something interesting. I may come up with some more ideas as we have three more months of this! Thanks for the Pin!

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    2. Good luck :) There are lots of fun ideas out there, can't wait to see what you come up with!

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  6. What cute ideas for the lil ones! I love the ice cream idea, oddly, I love mine semi melted anyway! LOL! Thank you so much for joining up at Meandering Mondays! Have a great week!

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    1. Hi Stacey. We had a lot of fun thinking up things to do when it was really too cold to stay outside long. My daughter just loved this.

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  7. These are great! I love the homemade ice cream especially - my daughter would love that!

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    1. Hi Emma. Thanks for stopping by. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes!

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  8. I would love to try to toss water in the air to watch it freeze! That sounds fun!

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    1. Paula it is a really wild to watch. But it is so darn cold when you do it it is hard to enjoy in the moment. It is better to be watching from inside through the window than being the one outside tossing the water. We first did this just tossing out the dirty bird bath water (from a heated bird bath). It froze immediately. Now we show it off when we can. And hopefully we will move someplace warm so we never get to do it again! Thanks for the comment and stopping by. Merry Christmas.

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  9. OMG...I love homemade ice cream! It just has a completely different texture and taste than store-bought ice cream. And I love the balloons and freezing water experiments. I would have loved to be there in person to experience it all!

    Thanks so much for sharing on Turn It Up Tuesday! We love having you! :)

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  10. What FUN and memories! Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!
    Merry Christmas...
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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