We Tried 5 Cold-Weather Experiments. Instant Slushies, Frozen Bubbles and More.


For the most recent developments, learn our chilly climate reside briefing.

EVANSTON, Ill. — It was minus 15 levels right here on Wednesday afternoon, close to the epicenter of the polar vortex, and faculty had been canceled for a lot of the week.

“How are we going to survive?” one mom requested on a textual content thread Tuesday night time. My cellphone pinged at 9 a.m. Wednesday with a plaintive message from another person: “We’ve already gone through my two craft projects, painted and watched an hour of TV.”

At instances like these, trendy mother and father flip to Google and YouTube and Pinterest, which beckon with seemingly easy and enjoyable science experiments for frigid temperatures.

But as my 7-year-old son, Gus, and his good friend Eren, eight, realized on Wednesday once we examined a handful of in style cold-weather experiments, science doesn’t at all times comply with the neat path of a viral video.

Several movies exhibit the best way to super-chill soda. An analogous experiment immediately freezes water.

This experiment is designed to show how the volume of a gas expands as it warms, and contracts as it cools. The method: Blow up balloons in warm air, then expose them to cold air and they will deflate. They will reinflate when you return them to warm air.

This is the same reason car tires deflate in cold weather, said Michael Kennedy, a research professor and director of Northwestern University’s Science in Society, a science education center.

We inflated half a dozen balloons inside, then bundled up and went outside to wait for them to shrink in the minus 39 degree windchill. And we waited. Gus and Eren decided to bury their balloons in a snow bank. Hildy’s flew into the street.

When we could no longer feel our noses, we put the remaining balloons in a bag, tied it to the door handle, and rushed inside. After about 45 minutes, the balloons had deflated only slightly and we realized we hadn’t been very scientific: It might have been wise to first measure the balloons’ original circumference, for example.

Alex, the lab assistant, prepared the balloon experiment for the scientists.CreditDanielle Scruggs for The New York Times

Once back inside, the balloons did return to their previous shape, but by this time only the adults cared. The child scientists wanted more Sprite slushies.

Dr. Castellini recommended tying a string around the balloons, placing them outside, in a window, where you can watch them from the comfort of your home. When the string falls off, they’ve shrunk.

Of all the cold-weather experiments, the one I was most looking forward to was the frozen-bubble trick. The online videos are magical, demonstrating how a normally ethereal soap bubble hardens into a lacy globe when the temperature is just right.

We tried two versions of bubble wands — a more traditional wand with a small, round opening, and a large, oblong variety designed for bigger bubbles.



Source link Nytimes.com

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