Snow and Ice Science Projects

Snow and Ice Experiments and Projects

Explore snow and ice by making it, using it in projects, and examining its properties.
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If the conditions are right, you can make man-made snow by mixing pressurized water and air.
A worker uses a snow cannon to blast snow onto trees. If the conditions are right, you can make man-made snow by mixing pressurized water and air. Getty Images

The temperature does not need to get all the way down to freezing for snow to form! Plus, you don't have to rely on nature to produce snow. You can make snow yourself, using a technique similar to the one employed by ski resorts. More »

Fake snow is made from sodium polyacrylate, a water-absorbing polymer.
Fake snow is made from sodium polyacrylate, a water-absorbing polymer. Anne Helmenstine

If it doesn't freeze where you live, you can always make fake snow. This type of snow is mostly water, held together by a non-toxic polymer. It only takes seconds to activate the 'snow' and then you can play with it pretty much like regular snow, except it won't melt. More »

Ice Cream
Ice Cream. David Paul Morris/Getty Images

You can use snow as an ingredient in ice cream or as a way to freeze your ice cream (not an ingredient). Either way, you get a tasty treat and can explore freezing point depression. More »

Borax crystals are safe and easy to grow.
Borax crystals are safe and easy to grow. Anne Helmenstine

Explore the science of snowflake shapes by making a model snowflake crystal using borax. The borax doesn't melt, so you can use your crystal snowflake as a holiday decoration. There are other shapes of snowflakes besides the traditional six-sided form. See if you can model some of these other snowflakes! More »

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Snow Gauge

Scanning Electron Micrographs of Snow Crystals
Scanning Electron Micrographs of Snow Crystals. USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center

A rain gauge is a collection cup that tells you how much rain fell. Make a snow gauge to determine how much snow fell. How much snow does it take to equal an inch of rain? You can figure this out by melting a cup of snow to see how much liquid water is produced.

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Examine Snowflake Shapes

Snowflakes assume any of a number of shapes, depending on temperature and other conditions. Explore snowflake shapes by taking a sheet of black (or other dark color) construction paper outside when it is snowing. You can study the imprints left on the paper when each snowflake melts. You can examine snowflakes using magnifying glasses, small microscopes, or by photographing them using your cell phone and reviewing the images.

Snow Globe
Snow Globe. Scott Liddell, morguefile.com

 Of course, you can't fill a snow globe with real snowflakes because they will melt as soon as the temperature gets above freezing! Here's a snow globe project that results in a globe of real crystals (safe benzoic acid) that won't melt when it gets warm. You can add figurines to make a lasting winter scene. More »

The rate at which icecubes melt depends on where there are and the temperature of their environment.
The rate at which icecubes melt depends on where there are and the temperature of their environment. Thomas Northcut, Getty Images

 Explore the chemicals used to melt ice and snow. Which melts snow and ice fastest: salt, sand, sugar? Try other products to see which is more effective. Which material is safest for the environment? More »

The melting ice science experiment looks like an ice suncatcher!
The melting ice science experiment looks like an ice suncatcher!. Anne Helmenstine

Make a colorful ice sculpture while learning about erosion and freezing point depression. This is a perfect project for young explorers, although older investigators will enjoy the bright colors, too! Ice, food coloring, and salt are the only materials needed. More »

If you disturb water that has been supercooled, it will suddenly crystallize into ice.
If you disturb water that has been supercooled or cooled below its freezing point, it will suddenly crystallize into ice. Vi..Cult..., Creative Commons License

Water is unusual in that you can chill it below its freezing point and it won't necessarily freeze into ice. This is called supercooling. You can make water transform into ice on command by disturbing it. Cause water to solidify into fanciful ice towers or simply make a bottle of water turn into a bottle of ice. More »

This ice cube is clear enough to use as a magnifying lens for reading.
This ice cube is clear enough to use as a magnifying lens for reading. Anne Helmenstine

 Have you ever noticed how restaurants and bars often serve crystal clear ice, while the ice that comes from an ice cube tray or home freezer typically is cloudy? Clear ice depends on pure water and a particular rate of cooling. You can make clear ice cubes yourself. More »

This ice spike formed overnight in a bird bath.
This ice spike formed overnight in a bird bath. Dranderson8, Creative Commons License

 Ice spikes are tubes or spikes of ice that shoot out from the surface of a layer of ice. You may see these formed naturally in birdbaths or on puddles or lakes. You can make ice spikes yourself in a home freezer. More »

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Snow and Ice Science Projects." ThoughtCo, Mar. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/snow-and-ice-science-projects-609171. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, March 6). Snow and Ice Science Projects. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/snow-and-ice-science-projects-609171 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Snow and Ice Science Projects." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/snow-and-ice-science-projects-609171 (accessed December 15, 2017).