Winter brings about it’s own special kinds of challenges. My butter is rock hard. Feet always cold. And it takes ages to get everyone into their gear and out the door. But it is also pretty. After a snow fall the world literally sparkles. It’s like fairies have come through and sprinkled the world with their magic dust. It can also inspire some amazing science experiments and labs with some fantastic learning opportunities. When nature is your natural freezer, might as well make ice. And winter science!
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I’m not a big fan of winter. Which kind of stinks, because we live in a place where it often snows in September and we still have snow in May! In fact, during my lifetime we have had snow every single month of the year. The year it snowed in August I was working in an ice cream shop. Needless to say it was a very quiet day for this ice cream scooper.
Now since this is home, and winter is a big part of life here, I need to embrace the cold. Welcome the snow. Find ways to bring out the best of this weather.
So I’ve stuffed myself into my parka and my winters, and trudged out into the wilds to bring you this list of winter science experiments that celebrate the cold and bring some fun to those chilly days!
However, since I know I’m not the only one who hates outdoors, plus not all of you live where nature is a freezer, I’ve divided these activities into two categories: indoor winter science and outdoor winter science. Enjoy!
TAKE YOUR WINTER SCIENCE OUTDOORS
Ice Sculptures – Continuing with how easy it is to make ice at this time of year, why not challenge kids to build ice sculptures. Figuring out how to keep those slippery blocks of ice together involves some scientific problem solving!
Melting Magic – Snow and Ice Science – This is a great project to do with kids as it demonstrates a principle that many need to see to believe.
Frozen Bubbles – This is one science lab we have yet to crack! I actually think we wait until it is too cold. So ours shatter before they even form as bubbles. This year we will continue our pursuit of the elusive frozen bubble!
Make Snow by exploring the Mpemba Effect – This is the most spectacular experiment we do each year, but it will only work under very rare and special conditions… crazy, insane cold!
Sledding is a popular winter outdoor activity and a great opportunity to see physics at work in real life! Here are some ways you can chat about physics next time you are on the hill. Still want more physics? Don’t miss our exploration of Newton’s Laws.
Crush a Bottle… with your mind! – This is one of our favourite winter science experiments. The older kids love doing it and wowing the little ones.
KEEP WARM WITH INDOOR WINTER SCIENCE
Winter STEM Study – Salt is a big part of life in winter. It is everywhere trying to combat the ice that threatens to make us fall or send our cars sliding. Study the effects of salt on ice in this study.
Learn how to make frost in this activity we did for 123 Homeschool 4 me.
Create a Frosted Wreath – The results of this experiment are so pretty. They sparkle just like the frost outside as tiny crystals form on the delicate strands of the wreath. For a different twist on this crystal making experiment, try making a snowflake version or practice making jumbo sized crystals or even making them scented (imagine a pine or peppermint scented design).
This Winter Scent Lab is a great way to spend a cold afternoon inside where it is warm. Kids will love making the scent bottles and learning how their sense of smell works.
Who doesn’t love a little hot chocolate science on a cold winter day? There are lots of ways you can explore science with hot chocolate. How about melting marshmallows or the best temperature for mixing your hot chocolate? And while you are playing with marshmallows, try your hand at a another marshmallow science experiment!
Heat is a big topic of conversion at this time of year, so why not tackle some heat transfer experiments to better understand how heat moves between objects.
Then curl up with that delicious hot chocolate and watch videos on the science of snowflakes.
Explore friction with this experiment exploring how things slide on ice. Although this experiment shows an indoor version I think it would be even more fun to head outside and test it.
Snowflake light reflections are a beautiful and fun way to play on a sunny winter day.
BOOKS TO CELEBRATE WINTER
STEAM Kids Christmas: Science / Technology / Engineering / Art / Math Activity Countdown for KidsSTEAM Kids Christmas eBook EditionThe Snowflake : A Water Cycle StoryThe Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of SnowflakesField Guide to SnowflakesSnowflake BentleySnowflakes in Photographs (Dover Pictorial Archive)Snow Crystals (Dover Pictorial Archive)The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s WonderCurious About Snow (Smithsonian)The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice
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