Recently, our Community Manager Sara visited a local elementary school as a guest speaker for the first graders weekly Science Friday. Here, she shares the Foaming Snowmen experiment they did together.
Although there was plenty of white stuff on the ground outside, I decided to teach the kids how to make a snowman inside.
I used this recipe for Foaming Snow Dough from our friends “Fun At Home With Kids.” We used half of the recipe for every two students, which made the perfect amount for everyone to make their own snowman.
After introducing myself to the students, we had a brief discussion on weather and temperature. We also discussed the experiment and the ingredients we would be using. As scientists we use our five senses to make observations, but in this case, we decided that we wouldn’t taste what we were making.
We had the kids get into pairs, and gave each group a plate and a plastic Baggie, which we used as our mixing bowls. The teachers measured out the first two ingredients into the Baggies and had the students seal them (double check that they are closed well!). As each student mixed, they counted to 20, and then gave the bag to their partner. That way everyone got a turn. We added the next ingredient and mixed some more.
The kids opened the baggies again and added the water before doing our final mix. We had them “test” the snow by seeing if they could make a small snowball. A few groups needed a bit more baking soda because their mixture was too wet.
When everyone had a good consistency, we put the snow onto the plates and the kids made their snowmen.
Because we were going to melt our snowmen outside, we used food items as decorations: pretzel sticks for arms, Craisins for buttons, some sprinkles for the eyes, and carrot slices for the nose. The kids got very creative with their decorations, every snowman was unique!
After the break, we discussed the next part of the experiment. We asked the kids to predict what they thought would happen when we poured vinegar on the snowmen, and compared that to what they thought would happen when we poured vinegar onto regular snow.
Then we put on our coats and boots to go outside. We had the students line up in pairs with one student in charge of carrying the plate, and the other one holding the cup for vinegar.
Outside, we put all of our plates on the ground. First we poured some vinegar on real snow. It just melted.
Next, we poured some water on a test snowman. It melted, but nothing special happened. For our final step, we filled up all of the cups with vinegar and did a countdown so we could all pour at the same time. As the snowmen started to foam and fizz, you could hear shouts of amazement from the kids.
We had to refill the cups several times, to make sure our snowmen were completely melted, good thing we had plenty of vinegar!
At the end of our experiment, the students wrote in their Science Journals. We recorded the recipe including the directions. The students also drew pictures of their snowmen before and after they were melted.
A Science Journal is great for writing practice, as well as recall. Depending on the age and abilities of your students, you can make this part easier, or more in-depth. You can also have them write in their journals before you melt the snowmen and make their predictions, then follow up with what actually happens.
We ended with a couple of more songs, including the always popular “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” before heading home.
If you try this experiment in your classroom or at home, let us know how it goes by leaving a comment.
Thanks to the first graders of The Terra Academy in Vernal, Utah for inviting us to Science Friday. We had a great time!