Icy snow globes science activity

Icy snow globes - a science activity for kids

Create your own Icy Snow Globes

Make the most of the chill by doing a wonderful winter science activity that is full of sensory science!

You will need:

  • A teacup (or something waterproof that is dome shaped)
  • Water
  • Lovely things to put in it
  • A seriously chilly night

How to do it

  1. Fill the cup with cold tap water. Poke your finger into the water, how does it feel? You could measure and record the temperature if you have a thermometer.
  2. Find some small objects to put into the water, things like marbles, stones, leaves and flowers work well (although our lavender flowers wouldn’t sink, we still liked the effect). How do your objects feel before you put them in the water? Do they feel different after they have been in the water? Do they look different when they are in the water?
  3. Look for an uncovered, flat surface outside and place your water-filled cup on it, you will need to leave it there overnight. Why do you think the surface needs to be uncovered?
  4. Make a prediction: What do you think will happen to the water and your objects when you leave them out overnight? What changes do you think you will see in the morning?
  5. Rise and shine! Go and have a look at your cup then poke the water, has it changed? What has happened to the water? How does it feel now? Was your prediction correct? You could measure the temperature again and see how different it is!
  6. Caution: this next step will get a bit wet so make sure you do it on a wipeable surface, that is clear of anything that could be damaged by water.
  7. Take a flat plate and put it on top of your cup. Holding the cup and the plate together turn it over so that your cup is sitting face down on top of the plate. Gently lift the cup up, what do you see?  What has happened to the objects in your Icy Snow Globe?

What’s going on?

The temperature is regularly getting below freezing point at the moment and that means that water will freeze! It also means that its the perfect time for a winter science activity! You may have noticed ice on the ground or even had some snow! When the temperature gets below 0 degrees centigrade the molecules in water start to slow down and line up, creating a regular pattern that turns liquid water into a solid, you will know this as ice!  The ice will form from the outside in, where it is closest to the air. This is because the air is colder that the water in the cup. Because there is quite a lot of water in the cup, the bit right in the middle might not have gotten cold enough to freeze. Can you see any bubbles and liquid water trapped inside the icy dome?

Now that you know how to make an icy science snow globe, what else could you do? I think there are so many creative things you could try! Take a look at the little video I made of my icy snow globes with some gem stones in one and nothing in the other on our instagram page Are there other winter science activities using the weird and wonderful properties of water that you could try?


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