Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winter Weather Science for school or for Snow Days! Shared with our parents on our classroom blog.

The weather forecast does not look promising for next week so we thought we would put up another blog post on winter weather science for you to try at home in case we do not have school due to snow on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Materials you will need:
vegetable oil
glass jar
food coloring
ice cube trays
crayons or markers for recording observations

First, freeze some colored ice cubes by mixing food coloring and water and filling an ice tray.  Stronger colors work the best.  Place in freezer and wait.  You may want to do this step the day before and place colored ice cubes into a zip lock bag after freezing so you will not have to wait to start your science experiment.

Next fill the glass jar about 3/4th full with vegetable oil.  You need to leave room for the ice cube(s).  Place one ice cube gently into the jar.  It will float on top of the oil.

Now, wait and watch!  Have your child work on their writing/spelling skills by drawing and labeling the steps to the experiment.  Also, have them record their observations by drawing (with detail) what they see happening.  Ask them before they put the ice cube into the jar what they think will happen.  Some questions to ask are:
Will the ice cube sink or float?  Explain why you think that will happen.
What will happen to the ice cube?
Why do you think the water is sinking to the bottom?
Why doesn't the water mix into the oil?
Which is heavier, the oil or the water?  Explain your thinking.
What would happen if we put another ice cube of another color into the jar? 

Asking these questions and asking them to expand their answers will increase their vocabulary and will help them with their critical thinking skills.  Predicting is used in reading and is a skill they need to practice to be proficient readers.  Asking what they think will happen next will help them learn to think ahead of what they are reading and that helps them decode unknown words.  Science is a practical way for young readers to practice this skill in a concrete observable way.

Here are some pictures from the experiment we did at home to give you a visual reference before you start the experiment at home.  Take pictures, or even better, let your child take pictures.  This will help them with perspective, examining details and close observation so they can draw what they see.  This helps them in their writing (early writers rely on the pictures they draw to help them remember what words they want to write in their stories).  The greater detail they can draw the better writers they will become (they will add more descriptive words to their writing making their writing more detailed, rich and interesting).

What happens when you place two different colored ice cubes into the jar?  Watch how they melt.  Talk about color mixing.  Observe and record what happens.

Look at the experiment from different perspectives.  Hold the jar up to the light so your child can really see the water drops.

Let them look at the drops fall from the bottom of the jar, from the side and from the top.  Do they notice anything different? If so, have them describe to you what they noticed new by looking at the experiment from different perspectives.

If you have a magnifying glass let them watch the water drops fall through the magnification.  If you do not have one, set your camera or phone camera on micro and let them watch that way.

Do the colors run together to form a new color or do they stay separate?

Enjoy this cool winter weather science project!  This is a simple way to get your child to practice their verbal, written, scientific and observational skills while having fun!  We hope this will help you keep your child learning while stuck inside with winter weather.  You can also "paint" on paper with these ice cubes or use salt to see how they melt.  You can build with them by sprinkling them with salt so they will stick together and then place them outside in the snow for a great art project!  Check back soon for more winter science!