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Melting Snowballs


Melting Snowballs

[30 Minutes]

Snowballs are for more than making snowmen. On the next snowy day, you and your child can practice your predicting and observation skills.

You'll need:

• snowballs or ice cubes • construction paper, black and white or any dark and light color paper • pencil

What to do:

  1. If possible, print out these directions. Read them through with your child before you begin.
  2. With your child, gather everything you'll need.
  3. Do an experiment with melting snowballs (or ice cubes)!
  4. Together, take a survey with family members and ask them whether or not the snowballs will melt faster on the black paper or the white paper. If you wish, record their responses.
  5. Let your child make two snowballs of equal size. Invite her to place a piece of black paper and a piece of white paper on the ground in the sun.
  6. Next, place a snowball on each piece of paper.
  7. After 15-20 minutes check on the snowballs.
  8. Notice if one snowball or ice cube is melting faster than the other.
  9. How do your findings compare to the answers your family gave?

Let's Talk: Ideas to Explore Together.

  • Which snowball do you think will melt faster? Why?
  • What do you think would happen if the snowballs were different sizes?
  • If you are in the hot summer sun, which would make you cooler, a white shirt or a black shirt?

Useful information:

Sunlight is a combination of violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Each color has a certain range of wavelengths. All of these colors when added together make white. Take these colors away, and you have black. White paper reflects most of the sunlight, and therefore most of the sunís energy. This reflected light is collected by your eyes and you perceive the paper as being the color white. Black, however is an absorber of most of the wavelengths and the sunís energy or heat, with little light waves reaching your eyes, you perceive the color of the paper as being black. Therefore black paper, if left out in the sun will feel warmer than the white paper, because it is briefly storing the sunís light energy in the form of heat. So, the snowball on the black paper should melt faster than the ones on the white paper.

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