Snow Day Science

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Is it a snow day where you are? If you live in northern New England like I do, there’s a good chance your children have spent more than their fair share of weekdays at home due to inclement weather.

Brooklyn_blizzard_1888

 

When snow days start adding up, parents and teachers alike can get moody. More snow days mean school goes longer in the spring. More snow days mean less teaching time. More snow days mean kids getting bored at home. And while my boys certainly manage to score extra screen time on snow days, there is a point at which I declare the house a screen-free zone. What else is there to do? Board games, reading, trekking outside, baking, and science. Yes, science!

There are lots of simple science experiments you can do at home on a long, snowy day that will keep your kiddo entertained and exercising brain muscles.

Here’s one we did last Monday during yet another snowstorm. We all found it fascinating and it “sparked” lots of ideas for trying the same process with different materials. I call it “Awesome Bendy Water Trick.”

You need:

a plastic Ziploc bag
your head

You do:

Run a light stream of water from a faucet. Rub the plastic Ziploc bag against your head for about ten seconds. Hold the bag close to but not touching the stream of water. What happens?

Turn the bag around and hold the other side close to the stream. Does something different happen?

Wow! Do you have any idea why this happens?

All atoms are made up of neutrons, electrons, and protons. Usually, matter is neutral, which means the number of protons and electrons are the same. If an atom has more electrons than protons, it is negatively charged, and if it has more protons, it is positively charged.

When you rubbed the plastic bag on your head, it became positively charged, which means you built up the number of protons in those atoms. Matter naturally wants to even out its charge. When you held the positively charged plastic bag to the water, the negatively charged water was attracted to it.

You know how sometimes you get a shock when touching a metal doorknob after walking across carpet? The same thing is happening. That’s static electricity. The charge on your body is trying to even out with the charge on the doorknob.

You can get the same effect by laying two pieces of tape on a table, sticky side down, and quickly pulling them up away from you and bringing them near each other. What happens? Why?

You can keep the snow day science going by letting your kids loose with a bunch of glasses filled with different levels of water, or encouraging them to take apart an old calculator or watch. Science doesn’t have to be confined to a classroom, and you don’t need fancy equipment to keep kids’ brains active. Most importantly, have fun!

~Andi at Nomad