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Dry Ice Experiments

{Dry ice experiments}

**Please note that children should be very closely monitored so that they don’t touch the dry ice with their skin, or especially try to eat any!**

I’m so excited to be joining in the Summer Survival series with The Joys of Boys today. All summer moms of boys have been sharing fun ideas and you can see all the previous ones at the end of this this post

We recently took some popsicles in a cooler to have for a treat at the end of the hike, so I purchased a block of dry ice to make sure they’d stay frozen. It worked perfectly, but even after we made it home, most of the dry ice was still there, so I knew we should take it out back and do some dry ice experiments.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Block of dry ice (found at most grocery stores, around $7, ask a cashier to get it for you)
Pliers or tongs
A smaller cup or scoop
A quarter

I took videos instead of still pictures, ’cause it’s cooler that way 🙂

Boiling Ice Water
Pour warm water into a cup. Let the kids dip their finger in to check the temperature. With the hammer, carefully break off a piece of the dry ice block and using gloves or tongs, drop into the water. It will immediately start to bubble and release CO2 gas. After a minute or two, have kids feel the water again and notice that it has gotten cold!

Catching CO2
As the dry is vaporizing from the cup, take the smaller cup or scoop and catch some of the “cloud” in it. Watch it swirl around, then pour it out. 

Dancing Quarter
Use gloves for this one because the quarter will get very cold. Push the quarter down onto the ice until it starts to make a groove in the ice. When it can stand alone, let go and it will dance and shake.

Squealing Hammer
Place the flat part of the hammer on the surface of the dry ice and it will make a squeaking, squealing sound. Since the metal is significantly warmer than the dry ice, CO2 turns to gas rapidly and makes a loud sound when escaping from between the ice block and the metal.

Fun dry ice facts:

  • Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide, the same gas that we breathe out, and that plants use for photosynthesis. 
  • It’s the same gas that makes soda fizzy.
  • It’s called dry ice because it changes from a solid to a gas without melting to a liquid first. 
  • It bubbles more when it’s placed in warm water than in cold water.
  • The white smoke you see is not actually CO2–that is clear and colorless. What you’re seeing is the water vapor in the air that has become so cold from the CO2 (which has turned into a gas, but is still much colder than the air around it.) Like when you exhale outside on a cold winter day…the water vapor in your breath is turning to tiny ice crystals for just a moment, making it visible.

So did you learn something new? Now, go pick up some dry ice, enjoy popsicles at the park, then take it home and have some science-y fun! Let me know if you try these and what your kids think! 

See all the Summer Survival posts:

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