Whether you’ve seen enough snow to last you a lifetime or would love to find a few flurries on your front porch, making your own snow storm is a seriously incredible science project, perfect for snow days and sunny play dates alike. Learn how science plays a roll in your winter wonderland!
Vegetable or baby oil
Clear jar or container – Mason jars are perfect
1. Start by pouring water into your jar until you’ve got about a ½ inch in the bottom.
2. Next, add a tablespoon or two of white paint to the water. No need to stir.
3. Then, slowly pour your oil on top of the water mixture until your jar is almost full. Note that vegetable oil will turn your snow storm a little bit yellow, while baby oil will keep it clear. Be sure to show your kiddos that the oil and water are not mixing together.
4. Let your kids shake a bit of silver glitter into the jar. Ask them how they might go about making their own snow and how they’d make that snow storm – they’ll probably come up with some pretty great ideas!
5. Finally, break an Alka Seltzer tablet into a few large pieces and drop the first piece into the jar. Sit back, and watch the snow swirl! When the storm subsides, drop another piece in to get things started again.
The Science Behind the Snow
How does it work, you wonder? Well, there are a few different scientific principles at play here:
First, you probably know that water and oil don’t mix. This is because water molecules (groups of atoms stuck together) are more attracted to other water molecules than they are to oil molecules, so they stick together instead of socializing.
Second, oil is also less dense than water, which means that it will always float on top of the water’s surface.
Third, Alka Seltzer tablets are made of baking soda and citric acid. Water activates a reaction between the acid and the baking soda, making it fizz and bubble. These bubbles of water and white paint push their way through the heavy oil to the surface of the jar, causing a snow storm effect. When the bubbles pop, the water and paint sink back down to the bottom of the jar, where they started. The result looks like swirling snow!
Best of all, because the oil and water will never mix, you can reactivate your snow storm any time you like – just pull it out, pop in another Alka Seltzer tablet, and watch it snow! How’s that for smart?