When it comes to science I usually let my kids lead with questions and suggest we investigate from there. One morning last week my son didn’t finish his milk and I asked him to please pop it in the fridge so he could have it with his lunch. Instead he asked if he could put it in the freezer to see what would happen. Of course I was game. After he put it in the freezer I asked him what he thought would happen. At 6 it was no shock that he thought it would freeze, so I asked him how long he thought it would take. That sparked this simple kitchen science experiment we did a few days later. My kids love kitchen science for kids and I love doing it with them. Fun together time with science!
Our question was: Which kitchen liquid would be the first to freeze ?
- Gather your materials. You will need an ice cube tray, a line up of different kitchen liquids , a timer ( not really a must ) and a freezer. We had a measuring spoon too! Our liquids were water, vinegar, chocolate syrup, ranch dressing, dish soap, milk and apple juice.
- Start by filling your tray with the different liquids. Before you ask your kids to make predictions ask them what they already know about the different liquids. My kids and I noted that we freeze water all the time and it takes an hour or two. They noted that milk will freeze so they knew that more than just water can freeze. After they go over all their background knowledge ask them to make a hypothesis or prediction if you are focusing more on results not the reason for the results. If they make a prediction simply say “why do you think that will happen?” and voila you will also get a hypothesis out of them.
- Freeze it! We set my iPhone timer to go off at regular intervals.
- Observe what is happening. The apple juice was the first to form crystals. The water quickly caught up by the next time we checked. The dish soap had cool bubbles and was getting harder to stir, and the chocolate still tasted great although it wasn’t really ever frozen. We checked on the tray for 3 hours and by then end of that everything was solid except the chocolate syrup which still has a dough like texture days later.
- After the results are in ask your child what they noticed. My daughter noticed that the vinegar and water froze pretty easily and that the chocolate never did. My son noticed that the thicker liquids were much slower to freeze than their thinner counterparts. That’s when I jumped in with the word viscous. We talked about how the water, milk , vinegar ,and apple juice froze faster because they all have lower viscosity than the dish soap , ranch dressing and chocolate syrup. I kept it very simple explaining that the less viscous a liquid is the easier it is to take another form and for the cold to get to every part of it. The thicker liquid was harder to freeze because the cold air had to work harder to get all of it cold enough to freeze. I tend to over explain things to my kids and have learned their signals for when my answer is shifting into a lecture. If they keep asking questions keep answering them but those blank stares are a sure fire sign that you should keep it simple, at least for now!
The best part about simple kitchen science for kids is that it lets your children see that science is everywhere. It’s in their kitchen and is accessible to all.
Tomorrow we are talking about how teach the scientific method to young kids with Jillian from A Mom With A Lesson Plan!