Dry Ice Experiment

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Dry ice is a favorite mysterious Halloween material, perfect for spooking up a witch’s cauldron, but did you know that you can experiment with it too?

Dry ice is so cool (couldn’t resist!), and makes for a fantastic (ventilated) kitchen or outdoor experiment. Have you ever worked with it? The big caution is that you don’t want to touch it less it burns your skin. Got that? So it has to be handled with tongs and/or insulated gloves.

Read up on  the cautions of using dry ice before proceeding, and always use your best judgment. I went through all the warnings with N, and the dry ice earned a great deal of her respect. She kept asking questions about how ice could burn us (it wouldn’t make sense to me either if I were her age), and was very curious about how it “smoked” on its way from our porch to the kitchen.

In case you’re wondering, I think it’s smart to introduce kids to “dangerous” things. They’re naturally curious about how the world operates, and given the proper instructions and parameters these introductions can give them a good foundation for critical and creative thinking. Have you heard of the The Dangerous Book for Boys or The Daring Book for Girls? I have a copy of the latter that I know N will love when she gets to be a bit older.

I found the dry ice at our supermarket, and asked the manager to help me pack it up. They come in big bags (perfect for cooling a fridge full of food, but far too much for this experiment), and I understand that they may break smaller pieces for sale…it sells by the pound at our market. To do this experiment, we used two pieces, each the size of a button mushroom.

I filled the bottom of this metal travel mug with about a cup of warm water, and dropped a piece of dry ice in with kitchen tongs. The ice makes a surprising sound when handled by the tongs!

The smoke is perfectly okay to touch.

And blow.

Then we got fancy. N squeezed some dish soap into the mug.

Surprise!

And it got even more exciting with the addition of red food coloring.

And green, blue, and yellow food colorings, too!

This project is great for encouraging curiosity, setting the groundwork for scientific investigation (observation and experimentation), and building creative confidence. A+ in my book!

The Science behind Dry Ice

Dry Ice is frozen carbon dioxide, which dissipates into carbon dioxide gas when it melts. It’s called Dry Ice because it turns directly into a gas from its solid state, without ever becoming a liquid, and therefore there’s no puddle of water in its melted state. This process is called sublimation. Also, Steve Spangler Science is my new best friend, and it’s where I gleaned tons of good information for this post. If you like science experiments, do check this out.

More Ideas from Tinkerlab

Get more Halloween ideas on my Halloween Pinterest Board.

If you enjoyed this post, follow us on Facebook for more child-centered experiments and explorations.

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No-carve Decorated Halloween Pumpkins 

Little Fabric Hanging Ghosts

Bubble Paint Recipe

Back Camera

The bubble recipe I used in yesterday’s post didn’t live up to my expectations, so I went back to the drawing board (paint and soap laboratory?) and came up with something that creates big, rewarding bubbles that are easy to pull prints off of. While this worked for me, feel free to experiment with your own ratios and solutions. And if you come up with something good, please share it here. Thanks to Amy for suggesting Dawn soap and glycerin in yesterday’s comments. I love getting feedback :)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons tempera paint (liquid, not powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons dish soap. I used Palmolive. Dawn or Joy (or something along these lines should also work, but we had far less luck with all-natural dish soap).
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Straw/s
  • Paper. I cut mine into pieces that matched the size of the bowl’s opening.

Directions

  • Pour ingredients into a small bowl. (If you decide you want more bubbles, stick to the same 2:2:1 ratio and size up).
  • Insert straw into bowl and blow.
  • Place paper on top of bubbles and you have a print!! Voila!

Bubble Painting

Bubble Paintings

“There are no failures, just experiences and your reactions to them.”

Tom Krause, Author and Motivational Speaker

What follows is my pitch for attempting the unknown for the sake of having a new experience, and maybe the end result will match your expectations. Or not. Either way, you’ve tried something new.

Aren’t these pretty? These are the result of a moderately failed experiment in bubble painting. The failure isn’t evident, is it?

I started with a mixture of tempera paint (red with a little silver), dish soap, and a little bit of water to make it runny.

Whole Foods dish soap is apparently great for dishes, but truly terrible for making good suds. If you’re up for this project, Dawn or Joy are most likely the way to go for a bowl full of bubbles. Mine fell flat. I’ll try this again for sure, and will be sure to share the winning recipe. That was the first failure, but here comes one that’s even bigger.

Can you guess what happened here? We poured the mixture into a little bowl, and then after a little demonstration, I instructed my daughter to blow. Out. Don’t suck it in. It’s not a drink. Don’t forget to blow OUT.

“Oh no, is that red paint all over your FACE?” I’m the worst mom ever! Wash it out. Check the bottle. Phew, it’s non-toxic. Ack!

She did great for the first five minutes of blowing, but then just forgot what she was doing. Totally understandable. She’s only two, after all. And sometimes I forget that.

MaryAnn Kohl has a good suggestion in Preschool Art, which I wish I had read beforehand: Pierce a hole near the top of the straw to keep your child from sucking paint into their mouth.

After that short, freaky interlude, we resumed Project Bubble Paint. From this point forward, I was responsible for blowing bubbles.

And they make for delightful gift tags, don’t you think?

Do you have a good bubble paint recipe?