Flint Lockwood, resident genius scientist here, with a great experiment for kids to try at home with the help of an adult.
It's no secret I made it rain meatballs, but maybe rain is more likely to fall from the sky in your town. That's why I want to talk to you about how clouds make rain and snow. And I have a neat experiment for you to create your own snowflake shaped crystal in a jar. You're going to love this.
I have two science words for you: saturation and condensation. They might sound complicated, but they're not. To make rain or snow, water evaporates from the ground and rises into the warm air. Over time, air becomes SATURATED with water vapor. That means the air is like a full glass -- it can't hold any more. That saturated air rises into the upper atmosphere during the day and cools.
The trouble is, cold air can't hold as much water vapor as warm air. That's when CONDENSATION happens. As air cools, water turns from vapor to liquid by condensing on small particles of dust called condensation nuclei. These particles attract more and more water until they form droplets heavy enough to fall from the sky. It rains. If the air temperature falls below 32 degrees, water forms crystals. It snows.
In today's experiment, you are going to create a SATURATED solution of hot water and borax. Just like with saturated air, as the water cools, it can't hold as much borax. The borax will CONDENSE out of the water to create a snowflake-shaped crystal.
Note: This is a great experiment if you are age 6 and over. You're going to have to boil water during this experiment, so make sure a parent is helping you.
What You'll Need:
Box of borax
Quart jar (heat resistant)
Let's get started!
Cut ½ of a pipe cleaner into three equal pieces and twist them together to make a six-armed star shape. Make sure your star is small enough to fit through the jar opening by trimming the arms.
Tie enough string between the pipe cleaner star and pencil so that the star will hang in the middle of the quart jar.
Heat three cups of water to a boil in a pot.
Carefully add 9 tablespoons of borax.
Stir until the solution is clear.
Carefully pour the hot solution into the jar.
Lower the pipe cleaner star into the liquid and let it sit overnight. In the morning, you'll have a sparkling snowflake-shaped crystal.