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Ice Architecture

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Wendy made a beautiful ice sculpture, but Scoop learned the hard way what happens when you leave ice outside for too long. Build your own ice sculptures, learn about what makes ice melt, and explore the different states of water in this "cool" construction activity!

Learning Goals

  • Sensory Exploration
  • Construction
  • States of Matter
  • Science
  • Art

Time

10-15 minutes

Materials

For the Ice Cubes

  • Water
  • Food Coloring (optional)
  • Ice Cube Trays

For the Activity

  • Salt/salt shaker
  • Bowl of warm water
  • Spoons
  • Tray or Plate
  • Paper Towels

Directions

1. Prepare the Ice Cubes (Do this the day before you do the activity)
In a small bowl, mix water with a few drops of food coloring, then pour the colored water into ice cube trays. Repeat this for as many different colors of ice you wish to make. If you don’t have food coloring, simply freeze uncolored water in ice cube trays. Place the trays in the freezer overnight.

2. Set up the Activity
Lay paper towels on the bottom of a tray or plate. Place a handful of the colored ice cubes on the tray along with a saltshaker, a bowl of warm water, and a spoon.

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3. Build it!
Begin building by placing a few ice cubes on the paper towels. Hold the cubes in place and use a spoon to sprinkle salt and warm water over the cubes to create a bond. Continue building by adding more ice cubes on top using salt and warm water. Try to avoid complicated structures as these icy bonds are fragile.

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Talk About It

Salt and warm water both speed up the melting process of ice. However the ways in which they melt ice are very different. Ask your child to describe the differences in way the ice cubes look after sprinkling salt on them versus using warm water. You can also use this science art activity to talk about the states of water and how water changes from a solid when it is frozen to a liquid as it melts.

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Take It Further

Remember how Scoop spent too long looking for a place to store Wendy’s ice sculpture and it turned to water? Allow your finished sculpture to sit in a sunny location and check on it over the course of the next couple of hours. How long do you think it will it take for your ice sculpture to melt? How does it change over time? Does it stick together if you try and pick it up? What is left over when the ice fully melts? For additional exploration try using other types of salt such as coarse sea salt or rock salt used for making ice cream. You can also try melting the ice with different temperatures of water - try hot water, room temperature water, and cold water. 

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