Ice investigations: A ‘cool’ project for kids

Freeze odds and ends from around the house in a water-filled resealable bag or plastic container, and dig them out again using tools you have on hand. Inspired by artist Danny Lane’s Threshold—a sculptural glass installation comprising an undulating wall of glass rods with colorful objects and lights placed behind—the process-based project promotes eye-hand coordination, builds vocabulary and critical-thinking skills, and is lots of fun.

Supplies

  • Water 
  • Large zip lock bag or plastic container (make sure it fits in your freezer!) 
  • Objects to freeze 
  • Real or toy hammer, metal  or wooden spoon, chopsticks, peeler etc. (depending on the age and ability of the child) 
  • Optional: gloves, safety goggles or sunglasses, food coloring, magnifying glass 

Put the resealable bag it into a bowl or container and add water. Let your child add the items one by one, observing whether the items sink or float or look different in the water. Seal the bag, removing the air, and place it in the freezer. Occasionally peek at the bag as it is freezing to see how things are changing.

Assemble your excavation tools. Be sure to take safety precautions if using any sharp tools! Once your ice is frozen, remove from container. Make observations about shape, weight, texture. Are there air bubbles? Do the objects look different from different angles?

While you wait for the water to freeze, watch this short video about the sculpture, Threshold, that inspired this activity.

Once frozen, take everything outside if you can, or place it in a tub or larger container. Experiment with chipping away at the ice with different “excavation” tools to reveal hidden objects.  

 

Encourage children to freely experiment and experience the process, and talk about what you see and feel as the melting process occurs.  

Try the experiment another day with a theme in mind, such as objects from nature, or all one shape or color.

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