Everybody loves building a snowman (or a snowwoman, or snowgirl)! But maybe there's no snow where you live, or maybe you just want to stay warm while still having fun with sculpting.
Well, this week's 20 Minute Lab is just for you!
We'll use common household items to make a miniature winter wonderland, decorated however you like. Then, we'll use a chemical reaction to "melt" our creations, as though spring were coming!
This experiment would be a great way to show the snowman Olaf, from the movie Frozen, what would happen if he got what he desperately wanted - to hang out in the sunshine - an idea with melting consequences!
There are TWO different recipes for making Snow Dough, for twice the experimental fun!
Snow Dough Experiment 1: Uses baking soda and hair conditioner. This recipe is a little more crumbly (less like real snow) but is less sticky than the soap recipe and has a smoother look.
Snow Dough Experiment 2: (Featured on PDX Parent Magazine!) Uses baking soda, salt, and liquid dish soap. This recipe has the texture of real snow (makes that satisfying crunch in your hands), is slightly sticky and 'impressionable' (bumpy look), but the soap can make a lot of bubbles when reacting with vinegar!
NOTE: this recipe is a little more crumbly (less like real snow) but less sticky than the salt recipe and has a smoother look.
NOTE: this recipe has the texture of real snow (makes that satisfying crunch in your hands) but is slightly sticky and 'impressionable' (bumpy looking). Also, the soap can make a lot of bubbles when reacting with vinegar!
What's going on?
What makes the snowpeople melt when you add the vinegar? Well, they're not actually melting.
Usually when we talk about melting, we mean that we added heat to something and we turned it from a solid to a liquid.
For example, when you take an ice cube out of the freezer, the room temperature is warmer than the freezer, so the ice cube melts into liquid water. Or when the sun comes out, it adds heat to a snowman and melts it into liquid water.
With our snow creatures, the vinegar reacts with the baking soda in a chemical reaction. When vinegar and baking soda react, carbon dioxide gas is formed. (To learn more about chemical reactions, check out our Foundation Chemistry kit!)
Those fizzing bubbles you see (as your magical snowland melts) are thousands and thousands of carbon dioxide bubbles.
If you made the second version of snowman, you'll notice that the soap used in the baking soda mix makes even more bubbles (though they're very small!)
So you see, we're not really imitating the sun, because the sun melts snow with heat. Instead, we created a chemical reaction that looks like melting, but is actually turning baking soda and vinegar into water and gas!
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For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!