Meet Abigail Case. Abigail is a fifth grade teacher. Abigail is a NBCT and has two Masters degrees, one in Natural Science and Environmental Education and another in Instructional Technology. She will be guest blogging at Science is for Kids. Please leave a comment and welcome Abigail!
The days are getting shorter and colder, but outdoor science fun doesn’t have to stop when the temperature drops! When winter rolls around we tend to head indoors to hunker down until the sun calls us back out in spring. Even if you live in a warmer climate, the stress of the holidays might take your focus off all the exciting learning opportunities around us. These ideas for the colder days ahead will be easy to prepare and provide excellent science experiences that will keep you outside!
Ice Cube Science
Science experiment! Will an ice cube melt faster in a bare hand or in a mitten? Keep track of the time and graph your results.
Keep a few sheets of black paper in the freezer. The next time it snows, head outside to catch snowflakes on the paper. Examine the designs you see (using magnifying glasses if you have them!). There are many different types of snowflakes depending on the temperature and humidity when they form.
Melting Ice Cubes
Science experiment! What will make ice melt the fastest? Ice water, hot water, salt water, room temperature water – come up with as many ideas as you can! Measure the time each takes to melt and graph your results.
Snowflakes and Air
Snow on the ground is a combination of snowflakes and air. The amount of air affects the density of the snow – not all snow is created equal! Outside, collect snow using a measuring cup and record the volume. Bring the snow inside to melt then record the volume again. How much volume did the snow lose and where did it go? As snow melts, the air is released leaving only the snowflakes (in the form of water) behind. Extension: collect snow from different areas and compare your results.
Staying Warm in the Winter
Science experiment! How do animals stay warm in the winter? Layers of fat insulate their bodies against the cold. Demonstrate the difference using different substances to coat hands such as vegetable oil, shortening, butter, etc. Stick one clean hand in a bucket of ice water, then submerge the hand coated in “fat.” Notice a difference? Record temperature data using baggies. First, use a thermometer in an empty baggie to get the standard result. Then, fill baggies with the different substances you have to simulate fat. Stick the thermometer in the center of the “fat,” and submerge the baggie.
Using Thermometers to Measure Temperature
A winter science favorite: collect snow in a cup and use a thermometer to measure the temperature. After recording your results, leave the thermometer in the cup and add salt to the snow. Watch the temperature change as the snow melts – did anything unexpected happen? The chemical reaction when salt meets snow uses energy in the form of heat making the temperature drop!