Winter weather presents great opportunities for at-home science experiments. With just a few materials and great imaginations, you and your little scientists can explore scientific topics and have fun at the same time.

 

1. Make a snow gauge

What you'll need:

  • Measurable amount of snow!
  • A coffee can
  • A plastic 12-inch ruler
  • Clear packaging tape

Directions:

  1. Tape the plastic ruler to the inside of the coffee can, allowing the bottom of the ruler to hit the bottom of the can.
     
  2. Place the can upright in an open area where snow falls.
     
  3. When the snow stops, measure the amount of snow that fell, using the ruler taped to the coffee can.
     
  4. Bring the can indoors and let the snow melt.
     
  5. Measure the amount of water in the can.

Discussion questions:

  1. Was there a difference in measured amounts (snow vs. water)?
     
  2. How much more or less was one measurement?
     
  3. Did your snow gauge's measured amount match that measured by the news' meteorologist?

 

2. Make snow paint

What you'll need:

  • Plastic spray bottles (one for each color)
  • Dry erase markers
  • Water
  • Food coloring

Directions:

  1. Using dry erase markers, mark lines on spray bottles to divide it into four equal parts.
     
  2. Fill bottle ¾ full of water.
     
  3. Add drops of food coloring to bottles (the darker the color, the better the effect).
     
  4. Take the spray bottles outside and spray the different colors on the snow. (Some ideas: Paint a flower garden, dress a snowman, or color your snow angel.)

Discussion questions:

  1. Which colors work best on the snow (lighter or darker)?
     
  2. If you start with ¾ bottle of water and use ¼ of the water, how much water remains?
     
  3. What happens when you mix certain colors together on the snow?

 

3. Compare snowball melt times

What you'll need:

  • Snowballs in various sizes
  • Cups or plates to store snowball brought inside

Directions:

  1. Put snow balls in various places that have different temperatures (one in shade, one in sun, one indoors, one outdoors).
     
  2. Make predictions about which snowballs will melt the fastest or the slowest.
     
  3. Observe snowballs at various points throughout the day; record observations.

Discussion questions:

  1. Which snowball melted first?
     
  2. Which snowball melted last?
     
  3. What affected the melt time of the snowball (time, size, etc.)?

 

4. Examine snowflakes

What you'll need:

  • Black construction paper
  • Magnifying glass
  • A snow fall

Directions:

  1. Place construction paper in freezer to chill.
     
  2. Take construction paper outside, hold flat to allow snowflakes to fall directly on the paper.
     
  3. Notice the snowflake patterns on the black paper.

Discussion questions:

  1. Are any snowflake shapes the same?
     
  2. How many sides do the snowflakes each have?

 

5. Make snow ice cream

What you'll need:

  • Gallon-sized freezer bags
  • Quart-sized plastic bags
  • 6 Tablespoons salt
  • ½ Cup half-and-half
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Snow!

Directions:

  1. Fill a gallon freezer bag half-full of snow.
     
  2. Add salt to the snow.
     
  3. Mix half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla extract in quart-sized plastic bag.
     
  4. Zip up quart-sized bag, squeezing out any air; place inside gallon bag.
     
  5. Close up gallon bag, again squeezing out any excess air.
     
  6. Squish the bags with your hands until ice cream is frozen.
     
  7. Remove quart-sized bag and enjoy the treat!

Discussion questions:

  1. Why is salt an important ingredient?
     
  2. How long does it take to make the ice cream?

 

6. Feed and observe winter birds

What you'll need:

  • Pine cones
  • Peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Birdseed
  • String

Directions:

  1. Coat pine cone in peanut butter or cream cheese.
     
  2. Roll coated pine cone in birdseed.
     
  3. Tie string to pine cone and hang cone on branch.

Discussion questions:

  1. What types of birds visit your feeder?
     
  2. How long does the feeder last?
     
  3. Do more birds visit on colder or warmer days?