STEM is an abbreviation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There are many creative projects for kids that incorporate the educational component of STEM. Incorporating STEM into daily activities fosters learning, growth, and curiosity. Not only does it help kids learn new things but can also spark new interests, helping them to know themselves better which can be very helpful for the future!
Nowadays, it can be easy to hand kids a tablet or remote for the T.V but this makes it especially important to foster and support educational activities. With summer break right around the corner, it can be fun to plan a few different STEM activities to learn and play! One easy and fun activity is ice cream in a bag. Ice cream in a bag is a fun project which involves science and chemistry!
First, you need to combine the sugar, whipping cream, and vanilla in one sandwich bag. Next, combine 4 cups of ice cubes and ½ cup of salt to a gallon-sized bag. Next, you will need to add the sandwich bag into the gallon-sized bag. Wrap a towel around the bag and shake the bag for approximately five minutes. Afterwards, add 4 cups of ice cubes to a new gallon-sized bag and transfer the ice cream sandwich bag into this one. Wrap a towel around and begin shaking again for approximately 5 minutes. Once you finish shaking the second time, the ice cream should be frozen and ready to enjoy!
There is science behind this fun little project for the reason the ice reacts. Water is made up of fast-moving molecules but when temperatures drop, the molecules slow down and begin to line up in a pattern, thus forming ice crystals. As ice melts, the water droplets are still in a low temperature environment, slow-moving, and re-crystallizing.
There is a different reaction that happens between the bag of ice with salt added and the other bag with only ice. You will notice that the bag with ice and salt gets a lot colder and melts a lot faster. The reason for this is as the ice begins to melt, the water molecules mix with the salt. The salt interferes and does not allow the water molecules to create a newly crystallized patterns and therefore remain as water droplets. The rate of re-freezing is a lot lower in this bag although the temperature is colder. The reason for this is because the ice cubes are absorbing the heat available but the salt causes something called a ‘freezing depression’. During the freezing depression, it is possible for the bag to have a temperature of below 0 without actually freezing the water. The interference of the salt can change the temperature at which water freezes in its pure form to a temperature even colder than below 0.