Top 3 Winter Science Experiments for Little Learners
Brrrr… it’s cold outside! Winter is in full swing and that means more time inside with our children. What a good opportunity to do some STEM activities and learn how the world around us works! Check out these 3 fun science experiments from Nick Briers, the blogger behind Top Notch Play!
As parents we want our children
Hands-on experimentation will pique the curiosity of our little learners and make them excited about subjects that many of us parents dreaded when we were in school.
Why is STEM important? Well, according to the Smithsonian“ NASA plans to set foot on Mars in the next 20 years, and driverless cars are already being tested in Europe. The future is here, and it requires a citizenry fluent in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).”
Winter is upon us and we will have a lot of indoor time with our children. Whether it is due to sickness or winter break or bad weather we need to try and keep our kids away from their screens. Below are 3 great winter STEM experiments that will hopefully engage your children this winter season and make them excited about science.
Project #1- Ice Towers
This project will blow your child’s mind. Through crystallization, you will be able to make ice grow in real time. Your child can pretend that he is Frozone from The Incredibles.
- Bottled water- The water must be bottled and not tap water.
- Food Coloring – Optional
- Cup of Ice
- Large Plastic Basin
1. Optional step- Place a few drops of food coloring into the bottled water and mix before freezing. This way your child can build different colored ice towers.
2. Place the sealed bottled waterinto the freezer and lay it down horizontally. My freezer dial was at a level 5 out of 7. Freeze for between 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Freezer strengths vary. Thistook my freezer 2.5 hours. The water should be cold, but not frozen. You wantthere to be small flakes of ice just barely starting to form in the bottle.
3. Gently remove the bottles from the freezer. Be careful not to shake or bump the bottles as this will cause the water to turn to ice.
4. Place the cup of ice into the large plastic bin. The plastic bin will prevent water from splashing everywhere.
5. Slowly pour a steady stream of the nearly frozen water over the ice and it will start to grow! If little columns of ice don’t start forming immediately then you need to place your bottled water back into the freezer for another 5-10 minutes.
Nucleation happened. Nucleation is the beginning of chemical or physical changes at discrete points in a system, such as the formation of crystals in a liquid. Pouring nearly frozen water onto the ice gives the water something to attach to and forms ice crystals. Science rocks!!
Project # 2- Holiday Slime
Your kids will create a polymer slime that is a winter color. This is NOT EDIBLE!!! But it is incredibly fun to play with.
- 4 oz of school grade glue (Elmer’s)
- 1/2 Tablespoon of baking soda
- Several drops of food coloring
- 1 Tablespoon of contact lens solution
1. Squirt the glue into a bowl.
2. Add in the baking soda and mix thoroughly.
3. Add in the food coloring and mix thoroughly.
4. Add the contact lens solution and mix until the slime begins to get firm.
5. Remove slime from the bowl and knead and stretch with your hands.
6. If the slime is too sticky, add another 1/4 tablespoon of contact lens solution.
7. Have fun!!
Chemistry happened. Mixing the glue, baking soda and contact lens solution created a chemical reaction and changed the nature of the glue from a liquid to a polymer. A polymer is unique because it has the qualities of both a solid and a liquid. They can bend and stretch without breaking apart. Science Rules!!
Project #3- Colorful Milk Magic
So, you are stuck inside, and the snow is falling. It is time to perform a great science experiment at your kitchen table. Your children will love that they are using science to create something beautiful. It is a merging of science and art.
- Baking Sheet or Dish with High Edges
- Whole Milk
- Food Coloring
- Dish Soap
1. Pour the milk into the baking sheet until it comes a little over halfway up the sides.
2. Add 6-8 drops of food coloring into the milk.
3. Add a drop of the dish soap ontop each of the food coloring drops. The food coloring drops should really expand.
4. Take the toothpick and use it to spread the colors around the baking sheet.
5. Create a beautiful design.
A chemical reaction. The dish soap started to break the protein in the milk away from the fat. The soap is attracted to the fat and causes the explosion in color. Science Rocks!!
All the experiments above were “hands-on” learning. If we can get our children excited about learning via experimentation, then hopefully they will be willing to learn the theory and behind the experiments when they get older.
Nick Briers is an expat stay at home dad who homeschools his two children ages 8 and 6. He is a promoter of active outdoor play activities at topnotchplay.com.