Thursday, February 12, 2015

Our Fun with Dry Ice

Sometimes, incredible learning experiences can be found unexpectedly.  Perhaps it's a fun walk in the nearby woods, finding a new topic in a forgotten book, or when the lovely lady next door asks if you would like a block of dry ice.  

The only time the boys have seen dry ice in real life is during some of our better Cub Scout ceremonies.  They were a bit uncertain how the block of ice, in a plastic bag, that you couldn't touch with your hands was going to be that much fun.  I quickly found a few ways to show them the awesomeness of frozen carbon dioxide.  

Disclaimer I must include for those who think I lack common sense: at no time were my sons unattended with dry ice. At no time were they permitted to handle dry ice with unprotected hands. They were sufficiently warned of its dangers and how we were going to take proper safety precautions. moving on....

What is Dry Ice?

We first discussed a few science facts.  What exactly was dry ice (I mentioned it above) and how was it different from regular ice?  We set up the supplies needed for a few different experiments.  Because it was an unexpected gift, we were limited to what we had on hand.  Our neighbor let us know she would have more dry ice next month, so we are planning some more experiments and will start acquiring necessary supplies over the next few weeks.

The first was simply to add water to dry ice.  This was Zander's favorite.  He loved the way the vapor rolled over the edge of the container and make things look spooky.  

The supplies we used.

Water and dry ice.
Next, we added a little bit of dishsoap to the water.  Ohhhh wow!  Big, giant bubbles formed and when they popped, smoke billowed from them.  It was interesting to see the bubbles before they popped as well, because they were milky white instead of clear.  You can see the vapor swirling around inside the bubble.
We tried dry ice in milk. It was neat, but not quite as cool as the two liquids we had tried already.

Water, dishsoap, and dry ice.
Moving on to something different, we read that if you touched metal to dry ice, it would scream.  We rubbed a spoon on the ice to hear the noise, which was interesting.  We then placed a quarter on the ice and left it so we could see how the frost formed over the quarter!

Our quarter with frost on it. Still so much detail to see!
We had such a great time with our dry ice experiments.  If you have the opportunity to use dry ice at home, safely and carefully, I definitely recommend you give a try!!
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