We've had plenty of snow this year, but the sub-zero temps have been keeping us inside most days. Luckily, with the exception of a quick trip outside to gather snow, this simple science experiment is done indoors. We used the snow to practice both prediction and observation.
Snow (if you don't have snow, you can use crushed ice)
4 clear jars or drinking glasses
Step 1: Measure an equal amount of snow into 4 jars. We added about 2 inches of snow to each. Use the ruler to measure. Place each jar in 4 different locations. We chose a window (on a grey, cloudy day), a dark room, the refrigerator, and outside (temp was -4 F). Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Step 2: Record your predictions. We asked the question, which jar of snow will melt first? We then ranked them from the fastest melting to the slowest. Each girl had a chance to make individual guesses.
Step 3: Make your first observations. When the timer went off, the girls ran around and checked all of the jars. I was their recorder and the person elected to check the frigid outside jar. After five minutes, we discovered that the jar in the window and the one in the dark room had already started melting. The refrigerator jar had no melting, nor did the one outside (obviously). After making your first observations, set the timer for an additional 5 or 10 minutes. We chose five.
Step 4: Make your second observation. After an additional five minutes had passed, we discovered that our window jar was melting the fastest, and the dark room was second. The refrigerator jar and outside jar still showed no melting.
Step 5: Make your final observations. After our second observation we left to run a few errands. When we came back, we discovered that despite our initial observations, the jar in the dark room melted faster than the one in the window. The refrigerator jar had started melting and the one outside was still as frozen as it started out. This led to a quick examination. Why did the jar in the window stop melting so quickly? The girls discovered a very cold window and a cloudy day. My 1st grader also observed that the heater had come on and suspected that it helped speed up the melting in the dark room. I love it when their scientific minds start working!
This science experiment is perfect for both preschoolers and elementary students. It's a simple way to introduce making predictions. Your older kids can practice their writing by recording all the observations in the notebook. Plus, it's simple and safe so that your older kids can do the entire experiment on their own.