Today the temperature outside was above freezing so I thought it would be a great day to experiment with melting ice. Our metal roof provided the best chunks of ice...so we grabbed the shovel and loaded them into our empty plastic sandbox.
After explaining that salt lowers the freezing point of ice (and an extended lecture on why children should never touch chemical ladden ice melting products), we took coarse sea salt and sprinkled it onto our chunks of ice. After waiting for a few minutes we could clearly see that the parts of ice with salt were turning into water.
The fun really began when we started dripping food coloring on top of the ice. Tunnels of the food coloring are created throughout the ice, in a sort of spider web effect. After awhile we were out of food coloring and there was still lots of ice to decorate.
So we tried out washable markers. The markers easy enough for my 19 month old to use and my 5 year old had more control in making designs. The markers are ruined in the process, but that is a small price to pay for such a wonderful scientific discovery. (Also note that food coloring can stain clothing so you may want to use diluted washable paint instead.)
Once the ice was mostly decorated, we decided to leave it sit for an hour. When we returned the ice paintings had turned into beautiful tie dyed ice art! There was a colorful puddle of water that had formed as well. Tomorrow we plan on revisiting the ice art to see what an evening of temperatures slightly above freezing will do!
Happy New Year! May 2011 be filled with nature adventures for you and your family!