Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dry ice heaven

My scientist has been desperately wanting to get his hands on dry ice for ages now.  I had no idea where to find it in our small town until recently.  At first I was a little nervous about buying it - I knew he wouldn't be content to have me hovering over him - and I needed to know he would be able to use it safely.  When I asked him about safety tho he let out a big sigh - "Mom - I know all about safety!"  And he did.  He was able to explain to me that he knew not to touch it, and that he'd need some good gloves.  He also knew how to store it, and several other things that are escaping me now, but that definitely surprised me in the moment.

And where did he learn all this you ask?  

you tube.

Seriously folks - I swear that everything this boy knows he learned on you tube. 

A fabulous learning tool - that has become his fave place to roam.  I mean where else are there that many videos of his hero?  

Soooooooo we went to the industrial supply store, and he got to *watch* them make the dry ice!  Very cool - He was in heaven I tell you.  On the way home in the car he was beside himself with excitement - I could practically see the wheels turning in his sweet little head.  This boy had big plans.

One pound of dry ice is about the same size as a pound of butter.  It cost $8.  He quickly started figuring how he might get himself an ongoing supply of the stuff - mom buys one pound - scientist buys 2.  Fair enough ;)  A weekly obsession likely to replace the previous flubber obsession, or the all things baking soda and vinegar explosion obsession.  Brilliant :)

I love the way this boy is so content to experience the same thing over and over and over and over again.  I'll admit that at times it's trying - the corn starch and water obsession (ok I have to admit that it does feel really cool to put your hands in it ;)  )  was a constant mess.  That said - the learning in all this repetition is impressive.  Doing any of these experiments once is cool - fun - informative yada yada.  Doing it 20 or 30 times over leaves all sorts of room for discovery!  Recently he's been doing an experiment with pop cans.  You put a little water in the bottom, and bring it to a boil.  You have a container of cold water sitting next to the stove, and carefully using tongs pick up the can and drop it in the cold water.  IT's quite exciting, because when the can hits the cold it contracts instantly.  Soooooo the other day he was all excited that he was going to try the experiment with different temperatures on the stove to see what would happen - variables folks.  He thought this up all on his own!  And he did it too.  And no I'm not worried about him using the stove-  my kids all learn to use the stove safely as soon as they show an interest - he's 8 and has been using it for a while now.)

I've seen this with him many times now.  He just immerses himself in his current science love.  With the flubber he soon learned to add varying amounts of glycerine to get exactly the texture/stretchiness he was looking for.

And now we are on to dry ice.  

Check out those awesome gloves ;)

He added some dish soap for some bubble action here.

He had been wanting to try this next one desperately - yes desperately - he's super keen ;) 

You need a container that is round and has a nice lip on the edge.  The liquid inside is bubble solution - Just some water and a couple good squirts of dish soap.  He took a long skinny strip of an old rag and dipped it in the bubble solution and then wiped it around the rim.

Next he dropped in a chunk of the dry ice (he used gloves and a hammer to break it up).  He took his rag  soaked in the soapy solution and dragged it gently across to form a bubble across the top of the container.  A thick piece of yarn might work well here.

Then you sit back and watch.......

patiently, it takes a while.....

At this point it would have kept getting bigger a while longer, but the urge to pop that bubble was too great for him ;)

That's the best part he says :)

It's too bad he forgot the lab coat and glasses until the end :(

I'm melting.  He's so lovely.


  1. This is sooooo cool!
    Tnx for sharing :-)

  2. Dry ice is pretty hard to not have great time with - even if your experiment doesn't work - it still makes the cool smoke that makes you feel like a really real scientist ;) Do check out you tube - there are endless experiments with dry ice - simple and with a good amount of *wow* ;)