Monday, January 7, 2013

Kid (and Winter) Prompted Science Experiments

Walking down the sidewalks in Buffalo, I can't help but complain about the way people don't shovel.  I know my neighbors hate how I am last minute with my lawn in the summer, but when it comes to shoveling, I am out there quick and regularly scraping down to the concrete.  I don't believe in salt because of the environment.  If you scrape it right away and wait for the sun to come out (even the limited Buffalo winter sun), it is all you need.  When my kids encountered sidewalks that were poorly shoveled but covered with salt, I want off about this.  Surprise, Surprise!  Anyway, after I shut up, they asked me why salt is put on ice.

It then turned into a great basic science experiment.  We put two plastic yogurt cups of water in the freezer to freeze.  Then we took them out and put lots of salt, a big layer, on one of them.  I tried to explain that the one without salt was the control one and the other was the experimental one, but I am not sure they will remember.

We then placed them back in the freezer.  Over the next several days, we observed the one with the salt melt despite being in the freezer. 

Of course, they had to taste the salt water to see that it wasn't plain water.  That part was their idea, not mine, but since it was plain old salt, it didn't hurt them. 

The best part of the whole thing is that some of our regular activities prompted this which made it relevant.  Over the holidays, I know I was starting to worry about not being creative enough with coming up with experiments.  After this, I started to worry less.

I highly recommend this experiment, mainly because it is very easy and not too much work, but also because it is so relevant this time of year.


  1. Some of the biggest science concepts can be taught with the simplest materials. Congrats to you on using a student question to prompt big thinking!


    [PS - I always taste the sea water when I go swimming, just to prove to myself that I'm at the ocean ;)]

    1. I am glad that my kids aren't the only ones who think that tasting salt water is a great idea! :o)