Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ice melting competition and further learning sparks...

The students have been exploring the physical changes of ice for some time now. They freely experimented what would happen when placing various materials on ice. Food colouring, cold water, hot water, salt, and sugar were used often, and excitement filled the room when students noticed the changes these additives made to the ice. It wasn't long before I heard them start talking about which ice was melting faster!

I decided to ask the students if they wanted to have a melting competition! They agreed and were very excited to take part! The melting competition I proposed was inspired from a recent visit to the kindergarten classes at Havergal College. They were also curious about ice and had experimented with similar materials. 

In preparation for our experiment, I sat with the students and asked them what things they wanted to use to try and make ice melt? 

"We can do all ice but they have to be different. One could be plain, one can be with salt, and another one with water and one with food colouring." K. W.

"What about hot water!" P. I.

"Yea and sugar and cold water!" H. S.

Next I asked them how they wanted to do the experiment so that everyone was able to take part?

"We can do like what we do in gym class and count the people one, two, three, four, five, six, and that's the group you're in. You have to remember your number." K. E.

I thought this was a great suggestion!

I didn't want to rush the experiment and wanted to give time for them to discuss predictions. I also placed survey sheets out with hopes that they would use them in some way.

The day came and we got ready for our melting competition! 

Six pieces of ice!

Student observations during the experiment:


"It's melting because I see a little water coming out." M. S.

"The salt is going into the ice!" R. S.

"It's cracking and there's water coming out of the ice!" B. P.

"The salt made it crack in half!" M. S.

"There's two pieces." S. C.


"It's melting and getting darker." E. E.

"The water is starting to look transparent! The sugar is blending with the water." L. B.

"The sugar got wet and looks grey." A. T.

"The liquid looks transparent!" C. C.

Food colouring

"It's melting and it's painting the bowl!" S. C.

"There is more food colouring on the bottom because it's melting!" A. F.

Cold water

"It's melting sideways." H. S.

"It's smaller and starting to float." O. S.

"I think the cold water one will be second because it's melting and there is no edges." C. D.

Hot water

"It's getting smaller and starting to melt from the middle." K. W.

"It's only half now left!" K. E.

"It's getting shorter and shorter." M. O.

"Now it's floating." K. W.

"Let's bring it in the sun so it melts faster!" (salt) D. C. 

"I hear cracking!" (plain air) Z. G. 

"Maybe the air is making it melt." H. S.

"Maybe the lights." M. O.

"I saw M. O. touch it so maybe his finger is making it melt." H. S.

Our results:

1. Hot water

2. Food colouring

3. Cold water

4. Sugar

5. Salt

6. Plain/air

After the experiment, we had a discussion about things we saw, thought, and wondered...

"The salt cracked half of the ice." M. S.

"Maybe the food colouring is hot and burning inside and melted the ice." J. K.

"The hot water melted first because it is hot and ice needs cold and the hot water makes it melt faster." K. W.

"The cold water in it was one side was thicker and the other side was thinner that's how it melts." H. S.

"The sugar when you poured it off the water was thick." E. E.

"You could see the line when it was melting." O. S.

"When the ice was melting the sugar started to get wet." L. B.

"It looked like painting in a bowl." (Food colouring) A. F.

"It melted really quickly, and I saw it was really dark." (Food colouring) D. A.

"I put two drops of blue and two drops of red. The colours mixed together and it looks black." A. F.

"The ice tipped over when the water was poured on it." W. E.

"First it started melting, then it started to crack only on the side." D. C.

"I think the food colouring has chemicals in it that makes ice melt." A. T.

The students had a lot of fun during the experiment. They were focused on their ice and noted the changes that happened during the melting process. It was nice to see everyone work cooperatively in their group and support each other with their thinking and observations.

To my surprise, this experiment enabled more sparks to form and therefore extended the students' learning further.

A few days later, S. T. brought in an experiment she did at home. She decided to try and freeze ketchup, molasses, milk, and orange juice and see what would happen!

S. T.'s experiment inspired K. E. with an idea for another experiment.

"Let's do a freezing competition?!
1. Oil
2. Paint
3. Glue
4. Alcohol (another student suggested wine, but we opted for rubbing alcohol)
5. Yogurt

The glue, yogurt, alcohol, paint, and oil were then placed into the freezer overnight. The following day the students were excited to see what had happened!

  Student Observations:


"The oil is lighter green." F. D.

"First it was transparent and now it's opaque!" K. W.

"It was a liquid and now it's a solid!" A. T.

"But it's not all the way frozen, it's squishy." W. E.


"You can't see through it it's opaque." M. S.

"There is a little crack." L. B.

"There are some light pieces and some dark pieces." W. E.

"It has black lines in it." F. D.

"You can't paint because it's solid." O. S.


"No it didn't froze because it sticks on your hand!" F. D.

"But freezing makes it solid!" Z. G.

"Is it squishy?" P. I.

"It feels gooey!" H. S.


"It didn't freeze!" H. S.

"It reminds me of the glue because it's squishy." E. E.

"It's cold and sticky." W. E.

"It feels like crushed ice cream." J. K.


"Maybe it's not enough coldness." W. E.

"I feel a little alcohol around the cup." J. K.

"It doesn't look any different. It didn't freeze." J. S.

"There is white on the bottom." B. P.

"It didn't really freeze." M. O.

"It's transparent." K. W.

"When I see through it it looks blurry." J. K.

"Why didn't the alcohol freeze?" A. T.

"Maybe if it has a colour it's easier to freeze?" S. C.

"It didn't freeze because it's still a liquid." F. D.

The students wanted to place all the items back in the freezer to see if it would make a different and they would freeze further. We continue to explore why some things freeze and others don't?

Time watches and rulers were also introduced when O. S. and A. T. asked me if I can time their experiment and if they could have some rulers. This inspired other students to want to try!

We continue to be fascinated by ice and it's melting and freezing magic! Today we noticed lots of melting happening in our school yard. "The season is changing!" K. W.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Freezing and Melting: Exploring Ice Part 3

The students continue to marvel and wonder about ice. This is not only evident at school, but also at home. It's exciting to have students bring in ice experiments that they did at home, and want to share their findings with the class. The types of experiments shared have sparked many class wonders and have motivated students to want to try certain experiments themselves.

The pictures below showcase students exploring the shapes, weight, and melting rate of the green and regular ice brought by Z. G. from home. 

In our last post, the students were debating whether ice gets bigger or grows, or whether it gets smaller when it freezes.

O. S. was very interested to find out and did an experiment at home with her family. The next day she brought in her findings and wrote the steps to her experiment to share with the class.

Before sharing her findings with the class, O. S. asked the class what they thought would happen?

"I think it will freeze and grow higher than the line." D. A.

"It will stay the same, because if you freeze it you can't get more." Z. G.

"Hmmmm...the same." S. T.

"I think it will stay the same." B. K.

"I think if we put it in the freezer it will be exactly the same". M. S.

"I think it will stay at 200, because I think ice doesn't grow." J. K.

"I think it will be the same, I don't think ice can grow." A. T.

"I think it's going to grow because when I did my ice it growed. Then I put it up to here (shows with finger), and then it went up to her (shows with hand) where it freezed." C. D.

Before showing O. S.'s experiment, I asked the students if they wanted to try doing the experiment as well to see if we get the same result. The next day, C. C. also tried the experiment at home. 

I then showed the kids all the experiments and asked them what they noticed, thought, and wondered.

"It grows bigger!" Z. G.

"It grew bigger because the lines are lower than before." O. S.

"O. S.'s is at 300! It grew bigger because it used to be at 200." J. K.

"It got bigger so that's why the jar broke!" O. S.

"Why does ice stay the same shape a what you put it in?" F. D.

"Why does ice grow?" K. W.

"Maybe because it depends on the temperature." S. C.

"Because when ice, when you just put ice in the freezer and when it gets colder it starts to grow." C. C.

"I agree with S. C." J. K.

"I think because the water is moving up and when it gets more freezing it keeps gong up." W. E.

"I agree with S. C." E. E.

"What do you notice about the green ice C. C. made? Mrs. Ralph

"Maybe the food colouring stops it from growing and the one without food colouring grew." O. S.

"It gets bigger because ice gets stronger and it depends how long you wait. It gets bigger because it grows, it broke a piece off the glass." H. S.

Some students brought in experiments from home that contained objects in the ice!

H. S. brought in two pieces of ice. Each ice contained a dinosaur.

"The dinosaur in the coloured ice didn't grow because I put it in the freezer. This one did grow because, well, first we put water, then we put the dinosaur and then it was growing a little bit and then we froze it." H. S.

"Why did you get the idea to put a dinosaur in it?" O. S.

"Because I wanted to see what would happen to the dinosaur if it will grow or not grow. I wasn't that sure but once it growed in water without freezing it, but I wanted to know if it will work with ice." H. S.

"Why did you want to make three colours of your ice?" A. T.

"Because I wanted to see if it was mixing?" H. S.

K. E. also did an experiment at home that he brought in to share with the class.

"First I got a bowl and then put the dino in and then put water in it and put it in the freezer. Before I went to sleep I add two drops of pink and two things of blue and it is blue! I put one dino in the experiment." K. E.

"What are the lines." Mrs. Ralph

"It is the water and when he added the colours in the freezer some made the lines because it was cold." P. I.

All the experiments done by students were always placed at the ice area for further hands on exploration by students. I wondered what aspects they were going to explore from H. S. and K. E.'s experiments. As I observed them interact with the ice, I noticed how fascinated they were with the way the ice was melting. They were trying different things to make the melting rate speed up so they could get to the dinosaurs! 

P. I. didn't bring in the experiment she did with her family but she wanted to share what she noticed while playing in the forest near her house!

"Me and my mom, and my brother, he put ice in water outside and then he put some snow on the ice, and then the ice it floated up on top of the water! It was in my backyard, there was some water near the forest. I made the ice at my house in the freezer. I noticed that when the ice went up the water was shrinking down!" P. I. 

I decided to ask the class their thoughts about what P. I. discovered. 

"Can ice float?" Mrs. Ralph

No one seemed to know for sure, and no suggestions were made by the students. I was a bit sad as this would make for a wonderful exploration, but I decided to leave the discussion and not push this idea from me. I was hoping the right opportunity would present itself and spark interests authentically.

K. W. also froze some ice at home and decided to place some items inside!

"Yesterday I made ice and I got water and I putted water in a bag and then I got the idea to put sea glass in it and I put one yellow rock, and then I putted it in the freezer, and then when I woke up the next morning it was a big chunk!" K. W.

"Why did you want to put sea glass in water and freeze it?" Mrs. Ralph

"I never done it before and I wanted to try it. I thinked it would freeze against the ice." K. W.

During free exploration, I noticed R. S. and L. S. trying something interesting with K. W.'s ice!

I quickly called over the other students so they could see what R. S. and L. S. found out!

"It's floating!" Class

"Why is it floating?" Mrs. Ralph

"Because there is more water and the ice is smaller and the water is bigger." M. O.

"Maybe because ice is actually, well ice weighs the same as water because ice is water." 
S. C.

"How can we find out?" Mrs. Ralph

"Take a cup of water and another cup of water and freeze it, just one." F. D.

"We can find out with the scale. We have to make sure we have the same amount so it's fair." W. E.

"When ice freezes it gets taller. I tried it on the weekend. Ice gets bigger." O. S.

We decided to try this experiment in class!

After having done the experiment together, I left the scale at the ice area for the students to explore and investigate further. Seeing is one thing, but having the opportunity to interact with the materials, allows for a deeper understanding and satisfaction.

O. S. did another experiment at home that she brought in to share with the class.

"I got two containers. I put water in both. I then put salt in one container. I put both in the freezer; in the morning I checked them. One froze and one didn't!" O. S.

The students were a bit puzzled but this time they had some theories!

"I think cause salt melts stuff. One day ice was on our path so my dad put salt on it and the ice was gone!" C. C.

"What kind of salt did he use?" W. E.

"I think the cooking one." O. S.

"There are different kinds of salt. One you put on the road to clear the snow and the other you cook with." W. E.

Once again, I asked students if they wanted to try this experiment to see if we get the same results as O. S. They all agreed.

Making observations and theories before taking the containers outside.

No salt (left) and salt (right)

After being outside overnight.

Comments by students:

"The water with salt is moving and the other one is not." B. P.

"The one with salt melted and the one with water got hard." L. B.

"The one with no salt froze and the one with salt didn't freeze." A. T.

"The one with salt, some pieces at the top froze but didn't on the bottom. The water one froze all the way." J. K. 

"I wonder why the salt didn't mix with the ice on the top?" O. S.

"I wonder why the one with salt only froze on the top?" H. S.

"I wonder why there is salt on the bottom?" C. C.

"The one with no salt if frozen and there is bubbles and you can't see through it, and the one with salt didn't freeze at the bottom. The salt was going to the bottom and stopped it from freezing." E. E.

"The one with the salt, I see bubbles and the water one I see frozen air bubbles." P. I.

"I wonder why the salt went to the bottom?" C. D.

"I wonder why the salt water didn't freeze and the one with water did?" K. W.

"I think the salt was sinking down to the bottom, the salt is freezing and sinking to the bottom." Z. G.

"I think the salt went down because the salt is heavier then water so it goes under the water." O. S.

"Why did the one with salt not freeze like the one with just water?" A. T.

One day O. S. came up to me and told me she had a wonder question. I told her to write it down on a sticky so she can share it with the class. 

She explained to me that we already tried putting food colouring in water and freezing it, but wondered about putting food colouring on top of ice.

After sharing her question with the class, I placed some food colouring at the ice area with some ice we've been freezing daily for exploration purposes.

Students noticed that the food colouring didn't go through the ice but ran down the side instead. They also saw lines forming on the big ice. O. S. thought it was caused by the food colouring running down the side. 

K. E. and C. D. brought in a few icicles. With permission, they placed their icicles at the ice area so their classmates can explore them further.

Having used salt, and food colouring, students were now thinking of other things they wanted to try on ice.

Stay tuned for our Ice Melting Competition blog post coming soon!