Friday, January 17, 2014

Ice Watching

We get a lot of ice here in upstate New York... different kinds of ice, depending on the season. Early on, when the cold is a novelty, we like to crunch through the thin frozen ice skins covering puddles. Later, we like to look at things caught in the ice; frozen just beneath the surface.

According to Ellen Obed, there are Twelve Kinds of Ice, each with its own season. Why not spend a few days this winter checking out the kinds of ice you have in your backyard? Is it thick or thin? Is it smooth or bumpy? How many kinds of ice do you have over a winter?

Does your ice sing?

Try tapping on ice with your fingers, a stick, or a spoon. What do you hear? Does thick ice sound different than thin ice? How else can you use ice to make music? Check out how these Siberian drummers make music with the ice on Lake Baikal. The lake is thousands of feet deep, but this section - with the musical ice - is rather shallow... about 5 feet deep.

Getting Traction on a Slippery Surface
If you have a battery-powered toy car, try running it across your icy patch. What sorts of things might you use to help its tires get a grip? Instead of tossing salt on the ice, try some natural things to see if they might help. For example: sand, ashes, tree bark mulch, clean kitty litter, grated beets. Check back during the day to see if any of these things help melt the ice.

The power of Freezing
If you've ever left a plastic bucket of water outside during the winter, you already know that the expansion of freezing water can leave a crack down the side of your bucket. That force of freezing water is one thing that helps break rocks apart. I wonder if it might be used to split those huge logs sitting by my woodpile?

Check out other science resources and book reviews at the STEM Friday blog.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, the ice music is super "cool." (Couldn't help myself). I can't believe the first person had bare hands.

    Great suggestions for activities. I particularly like the idea of using water/ice to split logs.