Make It: Science Party Fun With Dry Ice
Nothing puts the "oooo" into a science-themed party than the sizzle and smoke-like vapors of dry ice. Here are three ways to have fun with this dramatic ingredient.
Our kids had a blast playing with dry ice at our photo shoot. We bought slabs of the frozen carbon dioxide from AirGas on Kamehameha Highway in Kalihi. We also heard that you can purchase 5-pound slabs from Hawaiian Ice Company on Nimitz Highway. Where ever you go, keep in mind a few tips for safety.
- Make sure kids wear gloves and goggles. Dry ice can burn the skin in seconds.
- Don’t put dry ice in your drinks unless it is food grade. The ice we purchased from AirGas was NOT food grade, meaning it’s not clean enough to ingest.
- Chip the ice into manageable chunks before using. Dry ice cools things so quickly that a too-big piece dropped in liquid could easily crack the container. So make sure you start small.
Experiment One: Blowing Bubbles
- Fill a tall, clear, circular container (like a glass or pitcher) with warm water and add a squirt of liquid dish soap. Drop in dry ice and watch the smoky bubbles “crawl” out of the container.
- Let the kids pop the bubbles to watch the “smoke” escape.
Experiment Two: Inflating Balloons
Drop a small chunk of dry ice into a balloon.2. Tie a knot at the end, then watch it from a distance as the balloon inflates.
Experiment Three: Floating Bubbles
- Fill a small glass tank with about an inch of warm water. Add a few pieces of dry ice.
- Blow bubbles into the aquarium and watch as the bubbles float in mid-air.
Experiment Four: Super Freeze
(Note: Liquid should only be handled by an adult)
- Add dry ice to denatured alcohol (a glass cleaner found in hardware stores).
- Drop flowers, leaves into the liquid and fish it out with tongs.
- Bend the plants to see what happens. The frozen leaves and flowers should snap in half.
Thanks to Steve Spangler, sciencemag.org and the U.S. Air Force Academy Stem Outreach Academy Center for the dry ice experiment ideas.