Let It STEM, Let It STEM, Let It STEM

By Allie VanNest

There’s something magical about the snow. It inspires cozy sweaters, hot cocoa, and curling up with a good book. But for those of us who lament the cold weather because it keeps us indoors, littleBits has a solution for you. Since you’ve no place to go . . . let it STEM!

Below is a list of STEM projects you can work on with your kids in even when the weather outside is, well, frightful.

Snow in a Jar

The Melting Jar is a STEM activity that lets kids learn about the molecular structure of water. A great way to understand how the molecular structure of compounds affect their density and volume, it’s easy and fun!

snow, mason jar, littlebits

What you need:

  • 3 transparent Mason jars
  • Ice cubes
  • Mini snow shovel

Preparation time:

5-10 minutes

How to do it:

  1. Begin with placing the three jars on a table.
  2. Fill one of them with a cup of water. Fill the second jar with ice cubes to the same level as the water jar.
  3. Lastly, fill the third Mason jar with a cup full of snow and cover all three jars.
  4. Once this is done, wait and observe the water levels as the snow and ice melt.

The jar containing ice cubes has a higher water level. This shows that ice has a stronger molecular water bond with lesser air inside it whereas, snowflakes have weaker molecular bonds, and so the gaps collapse faster.

Snow in a Launcher

What better way to pass a snow day than to engage in an epic snowball fight? Take your snowball fight to the next level by making an easy snowball launcher with some basic supplies.

snowball fight, launcher, littlebits

What you need:

  • Balloons
  • Hot glue gun
  • Firm plastic cups

Preparation time:

20-30 minutes

How to do it:

  1. Cut the bottom end of the plastic cup.
  2. Tie a knot at the neck of the balloon and cut off the other end.
  3. Stretch the free end of the balloon and place it on the cut open end of the glass.
  4. Seal this with a hot glue gun to make sure it’s intact.
  5. Take a small snowball and place it inside the cup. Pull the balloon’s knot and release it,
    launching the snowball to enemy territory.

What we learn:

The suction that is created by the pull of the balloon exerts an outward force on the snowball when the balloon is released.

Looking to make your launcher more high-tech? Check out how kids can invent a throwing arm to throw snowballs (and anything else they can think of) with littleBits!

Snow in the Spotlight

There’s nothing more intricate than the pattern of a snowflake. But, snowflakes tend to melt before we can really observe them. Solve that problem by creating a magnifying glass out of ice to observe the snowflakes.

snow, pattern, littleBits

What you need:

  • Purified water
  • Carving scale
  • Spherical mold

Preparation time:

4-5 hours

How to do it:

  1. Take the spherical mold and fill it with purified water and freeze it until it is completely solid.
  2. Once the water has solidified, take it out and smoothen its edges.
  3. Carve the surface of the spherical ice to flatten it out like a lens.
  4. Place different snowflakes on this lens and observe their symmetry.

What you learn:

The spherical angles of the ice particles give a magnified view while observing the snowflakes.

Snow and Salt

The salt and snow STEM activity helps us understand how different salt concentration levels have an effect on the temperature of snow.

salt, snow, littlebits

What you need:

  • 5 tin cans
  • 5 cups of snow
  • A digital thermometer
  • Salt

Preparation time:

5 minutes

How to do it:

  1. Take the 5 cans and place them adjacent to each other and add a cup full of snow in each one of them.
  2. Leaving the first one aside, start adding a teaspoon of salt in every can, increasing the quantity of salt by one teaspoon in every consecutive jar as you progress. (That means, the second jar shall have 2 teaspoons of salt, the third should have 3 teaspoons of salt and so on.)
  3. The first jar will act as a regulator and hence no salt will be put in it.
  4. Observe the change in temperature in each of the cans with a thermometer at regular intervals of 5 minutes and record them.

What you learn:

With every passing minute, the temperature of the snow will decrease and the can with the maximum amount of snow will have the lowest temperature. This happens because salt lowers the freezing point of snow.

No matter how cold it gets this winter, remember that there are plenty of ways to take the snow inside with you — where you be warm and learn something new!

The post Let It STEM, Let It STEM, Let It STEM appeared first on littlebits.com.


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