This outdoor melting ice science experiment is sure to engage your little scientists! Find out what makes ice melt faster on a hot summer day.
Your child may already be familiar with the fact that ice melts.
But with this science experiment twist, ice melting takes on a whole new look.
Check out these additional 30 Science Experiments for more science fun!
Supplies Needed For Melting Ice Experiment:
- Ice Cubes (all the same size)
- Small Container
- Aluminum foil
- 1 Sheet of White paper
- 1 Piece of Dark paper
- A plastic bag or plastic wrap
- A piece of wood
The possibilities of items to use for the melting surface are endless! Just be sure the item is able to be outside, placed in the sun, and can get wet.
So use what you have and you could even have your child pick a few surfaces as well.
The options are endless for this ice melting experiment!
- Grab a t-shirt
- a piece of a magazine
- tissue paper
- a plate
- an old gift bag
- a mirror
- or even just place a piece of ice on the ground.
The key is having a variety so you can compare and discover what makes ice melt faster.
No-prep Needed For This Ice Melting Experiment:
Grab your container full of ice and your surfaces, as you head outside to find a sunny spot.
We found the experiment worked best during direct sunlight, around noon for us.
Place each experiment surface on a flat area, like the sidewalk or patio.
You may find that it helps to place a heavy object on each surface to help hold it down.
Make predictions about which piece of ice will melt first. Discuss with your child the reasons behind their prediction.
Join in the fun too and make a prediction as well.
Then place a piece of ice on each surface.
Time to See What Will Make Ice Melt Faster!
Finally: sit, observe, discuss, and enjoy the melting process.
If your child needs to be a bit more busy while you wait:
- You can discuss why ice melts.
- Have them do an ice melting dance.
- They can draw/write their observations on a piece of paper or with chalk.
- Discuss the designs being made by the water (what does it look like?).
- You can have a timer running for your child to hold and observe.
Which ice cube melted first?
With the surfaces that we used, the ice melted the quickest on the dark piece of paper. It took about fifteen minutes for the first one to melt.
But my kids insisted we watch until each ice cube melted, to see the second, third, fourth, and even the last one.
It took about twenty minutes for all five of our ice cubes to melt. The last surface being the white piece of paper.
The science behind this outcome is called heat soak or thermal absorption.
The idea is that the surface which absorbs the most heat will get hotter in a shorter amount of time. Therefore it will melt the ice cube the quickest.
A darker surface will absorb more heat than a lighter surface.
Adding a Bit More:
If you have an older child or just want to add a bit more to the experiment:
- You could view a timer and record the time it took each ice cube to melt.
- Have your child order the quickest surface to the longest surface.
- Encourage your child to draw the progression of the melting process.
- Discuss the different phases of water and/or the chemical formula.
For a little help understanding Heat in Physics take a peak at Ducksters education site for kids. Great for those inquisitive little science minds.
You may find that your little scientist is so intrigued that they want to do it again. So go and grab more surfaces for a second experiment.
Repeat or expand this experiment as much as you want to!
What are some other science experiments that your child loves?
Please share in the comments below.