Ice on a hot summer day? Sounds great to me!

I have seen this activity on at least three different blogs this month, so I make no claims to being original with this fun lesson plan (though this write up and the objectives are my own). Still, this activity  is so easy and perfect for these last summer days that I thought I would post it and pass along the idea.

ICE EXCAVATION ACTIVITY

Objectives:

1) Students will be able to identify methods for melting ice and apply those methods in a hands-on activity.

2) Students will have a working knowledge of the terms “excavation” and “archaeologist” and “fossil record” (This seems ambitious, but Katie and I have played “archaeologist” many times since she was a little older than Eric—I would bury her toys in the sand, and she would unearth them, a favorite game we invented one day—and she knows about the importance of fossils)

MATERIALS:

Small toys

Tupperware container (with or without lid—it doesn’t matter)

Water

Salt in a bowl

Spray bottle filled with warm water

Toddler fork/scraper

The night before doing this activity, we froze small toys in a container of water. By the next morning, it was ready to go.

Katie and Eric with their tray of tools.

We talked about how the salt lowers the freezing point of the ice and how the warm water changes the temperature on the surface of the ice as well. Of course we also pointed out how doing this outside allowed the sun to help us, too!

The kiddos get to work. Katie uses the spray bottle and Eric uses his fork. (Hi Bill, yes this was highly supervised—no poking of his eyeballs!)

Eric tries the spray bottle and Katie applies some salt.

This was half-way through the excavation. Eric laughs as Katie drops the big ice block to shatter some of the ice.

I loved this activity. Both kiddos enjoyed themselves, and it was delightful to be outside. The science  (chemistry and archaeology) was straightforward, age appropriate, and fun. Katie especially loved trying out all of the tools, and we observed and felt how the ice changed on the parts where we added the salt. As a bonus, the kiddos loved playing with the ice shards after all the toys were excavated. We used the ice to write and draw on the concrete. This is an activity with mileage and natural kid-appeal: we were at it for almost forty-five minutes, and none of us tired of it. Ice excavation is definitely going to be a repeat project next summer.

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