Teaching Physics with Fun

Balloon image

For those of us living on the 42nd parallel, winter outdoor play is limited to activities that can be fun while wearing seventeen layers of clothing. As such, I'm always looking for sources of entertainment for my little-un's. It's always a bonus when I find one that represents a learning experience too.

I saw this idea on Facebook a few days ago and had to give it a try. The activity is to fill balloons with a few drops of food coloring and water and to freeze them outside overnight. In the morning the balloons are cut away leaving beautiful ice balls to be used for untold and likely destructive purposes.

Kids love balloons and kids love water. Combining can be dangerously exciting! Needless to say we had fun filling the balloons.

When I told the kids that the balloons would freeze into ice balls they were excited. Then I asked them why they thought water freezes they came up with some very creative answers.

I explained to them that water is made up of molecules that look like teeny tiny planets with moons circling around them. Molecules are so small you need a super dooper microscope to even see them. Because of their tiny size, molecules move very very fast until you cool them down.

Then something magical happens...

When molecules get cold they slow down. The colder they get the slower they move until they stick together forming ice. Pretty cool huh?

They thought so.

Then I blew their minds when I told them that EVERYTHING is made of molecules, even us. Of course I had to follow that up by explaining why we don't stick together when we get cold. Eh! I should've seen that one coming.

UPDATE Here are some photos of the resulting ice balls. The kids were so excited to unwrap them.




NOTE: For those of you living in warmer areas, the freezer makes a great stand-in for a frozen front porch.