If you live where there is snow, it can be fun to play in it for a while—but it can get quite chilly! Or maybe you live in a place that does not get snow. In this fun activity, you can experience something similar to snow anytime, in the comfort of your own home. You will mix together common kitchen supplies to make a sculpted object, and then, whenever you decide, you can let your snow creation “melt” away into a white surface. Curious about how kitchen chemistry can look like snow? Try this activity and find out!
- Two large plastic or glass containers
- Measuring cup
- Baking soda
- Measuring spoons: a teaspoon and a tablespoon
- Sticky note
- Pen or pencil
- Dishwashing soap
- Small waterproof items to decorate your creation (optional)
Choose a workspace that can get dirty and wet.
Write “Soap” on a sticky note and stick it to one of the containers.
Scoop one cup of baking soda into the container without the sticky note. Add three tablespoons of water and mix the ingredients together to make a dough. It should feel like modeling clay. You can add water in small amounts at a time if the dough is too crumbly, until you reach the right consistency.
Have fun molding a snowman, a polar bear, or any other critter. Feel free to decorate your creation with waterproof objects. Keep your creation in that container.Does the dough stick well together? How does it feel?
Now, take the container with the sticky note reading “Soap,” and make a second batch of dough using a slightly altered recipe. Add one cup of baking soda and one teaspoon of dishwashing soap to the container, followed by three tablespoons of water.Do you notice the difference in the recipes?
Mix the ingredients together to make a dough. You can add water in small amounts at a time until the dough molds well.
Have fun molding a second critter; it could be very similar or quite different from your first creation, but try to make something of similar height and size. Feel free to decorate this creation with waterproof items. Keep your creation in that container.Does this dough feel similar or different compared to the other one?
Admire your creations. In the next step, you will melt them by pouring vinegar over your creations (but do not do it yet)!Can you predict what will happen? Remember that the main ingredient of your dough is baking soda. Have you ever mixed baking soda with vinegar before? What happened? Would something similar happen now?
Fill your measuring cup with vinegar and pour all of it at once over your first creation.What happens? What do you see and hear? Is it as you expected, or is it different?
Fill your measuring cup again with vinegar and pour all the vinegar at once over the other creation.What happens this time? What do you see and hear? What is similar and what is different between the two containers? Do you remember what was different between the two recipes? Would that explain the difference between the observations?
Most likely, your critter is partly destroyed and only partially standing. Try something different this time; find out what happens when you pour water over your critters.What do you think will happen?
Rinse your measuring cup and fill it with water. Pour all of it at once over whatever is left of your first creation.What happens? Is pouring water over it as exciting as pouring vinegar over it?
Fill the measuring cup again with water. In a minute, you will pour if over what is left of your second creation.Can you predict what will happen if you pour it, all at once, over whatever is left of your second creation?
Go ahead.Was your prediction right?
If your creations are still partially standing, keep trying out different actions.What happens if you pour slowly? Take some dough in your hand and pour vinegar or water over it as you hold it over the container. How does it feel?
Did both creations fizz as soon as vinegar touched them? When vinegar comes in contact with baking soda, the two chemicals react with each other. The result is a gas bubbling up in a watery solution. The bubbles create the fizz and sizzling sound.
Whatever was left of your first creation (the one without the soap) was probably standing in a pool of a bubbling watery solution, where bubbles burst open as they reached the liquid surface. This was probably different for your other container. The leftovers of the second creation—which had dishwashing soap mixed into the dough—were probably surrounded by a layer of white foam. Chemicals in detergent allow soapy solutions to spread out. The bubbles created in the chemical reaction still rose to the surface, but now, the soapy solution trapped the bubbles, forming a foam.
As water does not react with baking soda, pouring water over your creations probably just washed away some dough without any sizzling, fizzing, or foaming.