When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, everything begins to freeze. Rain turns snow. Ponds harden into ice skating rinks. Droplets of water take the shape of icicles. With this freeze, the last of fall’s vibrant colors fade and shades of white, blue and brown take their place. But what if we could make icicles less clear and more colorful?
This winter, brighten things up! When the temperature drops below freezing, use this Saturday Science experiment, from Housing A Forest, to create your own colorful icicles!
- 4-5 (or more) disposable containers
- Food coloring
- Cookie Sheet
- 2 liter soda bottle
- 6 long pieces of yarn
- Plastic syringe
- A day or two before you create your colorful icicles, make some colorful ice blocks! Fill the disposable containers with water and stir in your favorite colors of food coloring. Place in your freezer and let freeze. When the ice blocks are frozen, you’re ready to create colorful icicles!
- Take your ice blocks out of the freezer and pop them out of their disposable containers. Spread them out on a cookie sheet. If you have extra blocks, you could even build an ice castle!
- Set up the ladder and place the cookie sheet and ice blocks underneath it.
- Make a small hole in the bottom of the 2 liter soda bottle and thread the yarn through it.
- While you’re inside, soak the threaded piece of yarn, as well as the other 5 pieces, in water.
- Go outside and place the bottle on the highest step of the ladder.
- Tie the other end of the yarn to the broom handle. Tie the remaining 5 pieces of yarn to the handle as well so that all the pieces of yarn are touching.
- Stick the other ends of the yarn to an ice block. Use the syringe of water to help the yarn stick to the ice. Your yarn should be in the shape of a tent.
- Carefully fill the soda bottle with water and add a few drops of food coloring. Stir and let the water drain down the yarn.
- Every 10 minutes repeat Step 9 adding different colors to the water. The more water you add, the bigger your icicles will be!
- Let the icicles freeze overnight.
- In the morning, go outside and check out your colorful icicles!
What do you see? Is the yarn covered in colorful icicles?
This happened because the temperature outside was below water’s freezing point: 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As the colorful water from the soda bottle drained onto the yarn, small droplets ran down towards your ice blocks and the cold air eventually froze them in place.
This is how icicles form naturally, too! On cold but sunshiny days, bits of snow and ice melt from the sun’s rays. But as the water droplets begin to run off the side of your house or the edge of a cliff outdoors, they freeze again. If enough water droplets freeze in the same place, an icicle forms!
Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.