I yes, really should have actually written this write-up in August. Yet as much as we dislike scraping it turn off our windows on a frigid morning or walking gingerly throughout a slippery parking lot, the science of ice is fascinating stuff.

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For example, walk you understand that ice has 15 various crystal forms? Or the there really is no such point as make something colder? I’m gaining ahead that myself though; let’s start at the beginning.

What is Temperature?

Temperature is a measure up of the rate (or energy) that the atom in a given substance. More formally, “temperature is a measure up of the median amount the kinetic energy possessed by the corpuscle of one object.” atoms are always in motion. The quicker they relocate the more energy lock contain. If a substance v fast-moving atoms (like a hand in the experiment below) meets a substance v slower atoms (the ice cube below), the energy from the fast-moving atoms desires to move right into the substance v slower relocating atoms. As soon as the 2 substances room at the exact same temperature, scientists contact this “thermal equilibrium.”

What is Heat?

Heat is energy, pure and simple, however it really is energy on the move. “Heat is the carry of energy from a higher temperature object to a lower temperature object.” here is a straightforward demonstration the this rule you can use in the classroom.

You’ll need:

A bag of ice cream cubes (enough because that one ice cream cube every student)Paper towelsA plastic bath tub (for collecting ice cubes at the end)


Give each student an ice cube and a pair paper towels. Have actually them hold the ice cream in your hand and also observe what happens. Document their monitorings on the board. Once you’ve exhausted the (useful) observations, collect the ice cream cubes in the plastic tub.

Discussion Questions:

What occurred to the ice?What did her hand feel together the ice was melting?Why go the ice melt?

Most student (and many adults too) think that the hand feeling cold because the “cold” indigenous the ice is penetrating the skin. Actually, the hand feels cold due to the fact that the heat from your hand is leaving her skin and moving into the ice. This is why the ice cream melts.

What is Ice?

This is among those “duh” questions. Ice is frozen water. Water molecules space made of one oxygen atom bonded v two hydrogen atoms. They kind what a layperson would contact a shallow “V” shape, v the 2 hydrogen atoms on the outside and also the oxygen atom in the middle. From about 32°F to around 212°F, water is in a liquid form. In liquid water, the hydrogen atoms space constantly making and breaking bonds v the various other hydrogen atoms. These bonds are strong enough to store the water from changing to steam, but loosened enough the the molecules move around freely.

If you apply heat, the molecules absorb the energy from the heat resource and become increasingly energetic. At approximately 212°F, the bonds in between the hydrogen atom of the water molecule break and also the molecule escape right into the air as water vapor.

On the other end of the scale, slow the molecules down to about 32°F and the hydrogen atoms lock together in a pattern that forms a crystal. This crystals take it up an ext space than the free-flowing molecule of liquid water, i m sorry is why ice cream is less dense than water and can float.

You deserve to have a tiny fun v the crystallization process of water. As we mentioned, unhindered, water develops a solid at about 32°F. However, if an additional substance is mixed with the water, producing a solution, the atom of that substance have the right to interfere v the ability of the hydrogen atom to kind solid bonds. This will readjust the temperature at which the water freezes.

You’ll need:

4 little containers, equally sized (or a set of 4 for each group of students)Masking tape, optional (for labelling containers)A method to measure the water (I offered a 1/3 cup measure up cup)Table saltSpoon or stirring stickA thermometer (I used an instant-read from mine kitchen.)Sugar (optional)Measuring spoonsA cookie paper or tray (some method to move the containers in and out the the freezer easily)Water!


Label the containers A,B,C,D.Put an equal amount that water right into each container (around 1/3 cup).Put ½ tsp. Of salt into container B. Placed 1 tsp. Salt into container C. Placed 2 tsp. Salt into container D. (Do no put any salt in container A.)Mix the water until the salt dissolves.Record the water temperature in every container.Place the containers on the tray and also put the tray right into the freezer.Check the temperature of each container at continual intervals. I checked every half-hour in ~ the beginning, yet this might not be valuable in a college setting.Record the time, “state” the the water (liquid, starting to crystalize, mainly crystalized yet still deserve to put thermometer in, solid, etc.), and also the temperature that the water at every interval.

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Discussion Questions

Will there be a difference in the rate of freezing amongst the containers? Why or why not?What perform you an alert about the temperature differences amongst the containers throughout the experiment? do the crystals look various in the various containers?What happens to the salt together the water cools and also begins to freeze?

As with plenty of natural processes, ice creating is in reality more complicated than this basic experiment encompasses (see The Freezing procedure below). That said, this experiment does do a nice project of demonstrating how other substances have the right to interfere through water’s ability to kind a solid. Ns recommend make the efforts the activity a 2nd time (or simultaneously) with the sugar. The sugar water forms much various crystals.