Wondering what to do with dry ice? This post includes three easy & cool dry ice experiments to introduce children to the amazing science behind this awesome substance! My sons are almost six and four and a half years old. Both are obsessed with science. At this point what I am introducing basic science concepts. My main goal is to ignite a desire to learn more. I want my children to ask questions and to want to do the “next” thing.
One additional goal at this juncture is to introduce the idea of scientific thinking and design.
Quite simply asking the child:
- What is the plan?
- What do you think might happen?
- What could/should we do next?
- How would it change if we did xyz?
SAFETY TIP: Don't handle dry ice directly with your hands because it is really, really cold and will burn skin on contact. Therefore, use tongs or heavy duty gloves. Above all else, you can't play with dry ice.
Check out these Science Activities
Compare and Contrast
You need two bowls, regular ice, and dry ice. We order groceries from Amazon Fresh. They always provide bags of dry ice in our cooler items. Place a bit of regular ice in one bowl and a bit of dry ice in the other bowl. Set a timer for ten, fifteen, and then sixty minutes. Observe what happens to the ice in each bowl.
TIP: Use a large short storage container as a base for this activity, or take it outside!
Warm Water & Dry Ice
You need a bowl or wide-mouthed jar or vase. Use your tongs to place a chunk of dry ice into the container. Use a measuring cup, or simply a drinking glass, with warm water. Pour the warm water into the container with dry ice. Watch what happens, examine, and take notes. If the “smoke” is dying down, simply add more warm water.
What is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is the solid form (frozen) of carbon dioxide. It turns into a carbon dioxide gas instead of a liquid as it breaks down. Carbon Dioxide is the major gas in our planet's atmosphere. When dry ice “melts”, it turns directly into carbon dioxide gas. Dry ice sublimates, which means it breaks down directly into gas rather than a liquid form. Sublimation occurs at the rate of 5-10 pounds per a 24 hour period in a cooler or ice chest!
What is the Temperature of Dry ice?
A block of dry ice has a surface temperature of -109.3 degrees. For this reason, many people and companies use the substance to keep products cold.
Where Can I Purchase Dry Ice?
Pick up pieces of dry ice with tongs to protect your skin.
Warm Water, Dish Soap, & Food Coloring
Check out this dry ice bubble!! We used the same approach as above but added a few drops of dish soap and food coloring to make our dry ice bubble. The result is simply amazing to watch.
In this science experiment, dry ice does not turn into a cloud of gas. Instead, the soap bubbles trap the cloud resulting in a great effect that kids love! The dry ice bubbles burst either on their own or with the help of little hands, allowing the cloud to escape.
Other Dry Ice Experiments
- Use really hot water
- Put dry ice into a balloon (you will need to use the pellets or break the block of ice)
- Use ethanol & freeze a flower
- Use a plastic cup, plastic wrap, & rubber bands to make smoke rings
Resources for Further Science Learning
Check out these AMAZING Dry Ice Experiments
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