Ice and Salt Preschool STEAM Activity
It's easy for kids to have fun with winter STEAM in this simple ice and salt activity. Kids can compete in ice cube races, observe changes in ice cubes as they melt, and discover how salt affects ice.
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Ice cubes are fun to use in winter STEAM activities to promote critical thinking and observation.
STEAM = science+technology+engineering+art+math
Kids are engaging STEAM principles as they set design and set up the experiment (engineering), choose ice cubes of the same size (math), and observe how ice freezes and melts (science)!
In this activity, kids will have an opportunity to make changes throughout the experiment to see how various factors affect the movement of the ice cubes.
Set up the activity
Set up the activity as shown in the photo, with a fan, a smooth surface, and ice cubes. You might go through some trial and error, as we did, in order to get results kids can easily observe and identify.
Here are some examples of our tests:
In our first attempt, we placed the ice cubes directly on the counter top.
For our second attempt, we placed the ice cubes on a glass cutting board (turned upside down as the top surface has a rough texture but the underside is smooth).
We also tried various fans - a small table fan, a slightly larger 12 in. (30 cm) table model, and a floor model. The 12 in. (30 cm) sized fan is shown in the picture. It proved the best for moving the ice cubes.
1. Ice Races
Place two ice cubes in front of the fan. Turn on the fan.
One ice cube races ahead of the other!
2. Ice and Salt
Place a row of salt in the path of one ice cube.
The salt halts the progress of the ice cube!
More science activities on our STEM to STEAM Pinterest board!
- We noticed that ice cubes melted faster in the path of the fan than ice cubes off to the side.
- Salt inhibited the movement of the ice cube.
- Ice cubes would slow or stop and then proceed after melting a bit, as if they moved on a cushion of water.
Factors affecting the movement of the ice include:
- type of surface where the ice cubes are placed
- size of fan and strength of air flow
- salt sprinkled in the path of the ice cube
- ice melting during the experiment
This is an open-ended activity that encourages input and response from kids. As they play and learn they will benefit not only from exploring the challenges presented in this activity, but from the fine motor and sensory experiences it provides.
Simple STEAM activities are not only fun for kids but promote observation and discovery.