Sunday, February 13, 2011

Science Sunday – melting ice and floating air


Well, we did two experiments this week…

experiment 1 – melting ice:

M wanted to make colored ice, which he does from time to time (and likes to melt them in his bath water), and somehow this gave him the bright idea of doing a “simonasperiment” (science experiment) with ice: make ice and see how long it takes for it to melt.

I remembered Ticia’s family did something similar a while back, so I asked M to think of different ways to melt ice.  We came up with 4 ideas:

  1. let it sit out in the room
  2. let it sit in hot water
  3. put it in the microwave
  4. sprinkle salt on it (this idea was my contribution, and he thought I was nuts, hee hee)

So, we filled 4 small snack containers with water, and set them out in our extremely cold breezeway (which gets used as an extra freezer in winter, seriously), and brought them in when we remembered them about 3 days later. ;)

M predicted that the microwave would melt the ice first, the hot water would be second, the salt would be third, and the ice block sitting out in room temperature would take the longest to melt.

We checked the clock and wrote the time down, then quickly put one in some hot water:pouring hot water over ice

ice in hot water 

One in an empty bowl:ice left at room temperature

We poured salt on the third one:pouring salt on ice

salted ice

Then we put the 4th one in the microwave for 30 seconds on high:melting ice in the microwave We kept checking it at 30 second intervals, and it was almost completely melted at 4min, 30 seconds.  It took a total of about 5 minutes to melt the ice in the microwave.  This was the one to melt the quickest, so M’s prediction was correct, but it took much longer than I imagined!

M was correct in all of his predictions!  The warm water melted the ice in about 17 minutes (we changed the water 3 times during this time in an effort to keep it in warm water), The salt-covered ice melted in 2 hours and 38 minutes, and the ice left out in the room took 6 hours to melt.


experiment 2 – floating air:

This was another experiment from this fun book:image

We filled our kitchen sink and gathered up several things that looked empty, but were really full of air – a pan, a plastic bottle, a bowl, and a cup.  Each of these things floated in our sink, until we filled them with water.  Filling them with water made them sink:floating and sinking items with air in them

We tried putting glass pebbles in the empty bottle to see how many it would take to make it sink.  We found that the bottle would only sink to the depth of the pebbles.  Any air in the bottle made it float, regardless of how heavy it was getting.placing pebbles in empty jar

I told M how sometimes deep sea divers use special balloons to raise things from the bottom of the water to the top.  We grabbed a spoon, which we knew was a “sinker” from our previous “sink or float” experiment, and dropped it in the sink.  Then I blew up a balloon and tied a very short piece of yarn to it.  We place it down in the water and tied the other end to the spoon.  Because the balloon was full of air, it went back up to the surface, and brought the spoon with it, making it float just beneath the surface of the water.  M thought this was very cool.  Air is pretty strong stuff! balloon floating a spoon up from the bottom

We also learned how submarines work.  Subs have chambers that fill up with water, making them sink.  When it’s time to rise, air is blown into the chambers, and pushes the water out, making the sub slowly rise to the surface. 

I made a hole in the bottom of our bottle, and another hole in the cap (which was not a very easy thing to do, let me tell you).  We filled our “sub” with water and it sank to the bottom of the sink.  Then we inserted a straw into the hole on the lid and M blew air into the bottle, which pushed the water out the hole in the bottom:M blowing air into his "submarine"and that made his submarine rise to the top.  He loved this, and did it over and over again!

Be sure to check out Science Sunday for more great science ideas!

Have a beautiful day! :)


  1. I previously made an ice sensory tub for my daughter and she loved it!

    Your son is a lucky little boy to have a mom who provides so many fun water play activities :)

  2. Looks like he had fun exploring water and ice. I like the book you showed. I may have to look into that! I'm visiting you from Science Sunday and I'm your newest follower!

  3. Great exploration! There's a Magic School Bus episode about submarines sinking, and floating, you can find too.

  4. I love the floating air, especially the balloon, that is so cool!

  5. Hnads on science experiments are so much fun. I am surprised at how long the microwave took to melt the ice - who would have known?!? M will always remember these fun lessons that you did with him.

    The balloon on the spoon is such a great idea.

    I recently came across a "melt an ice cube game" that we have been playing (perfect for our Aussie summer). The link is:


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