Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ice melting competition and further learning sparks...

The students have been exploring the physical changes of ice for some time now. They freely experimented what would happen when placing various materials on ice. Food colouring, cold water, hot water, salt, and sugar were used often, and excitement filled the room when students noticed the changes these additives made to the ice. It wasn't long before I heard them start talking about which ice was melting faster!

I decided to ask the students if they wanted to have a melting competition! They agreed and were very excited to take part! The melting competition I proposed was inspired from a recent visit to the kindergarten classes at Havergal College. They were also curious about ice and had experimented with similar materials. 

In preparation for our experiment, I sat with the students and asked them what things they wanted to use to try and make ice melt? 

"We can do all ice but they have to be different. One could be plain, one can be with salt, and another one with water and one with food colouring." K. W.

"What about hot water!" P. I.

"Yea and sugar and cold water!" H. S.

Next I asked them how they wanted to do the experiment so that everyone was able to take part?

"We can do like what we do in gym class and count the people one, two, three, four, five, six, and that's the group you're in. You have to remember your number." K. E.

I thought this was a great suggestion!

I didn't want to rush the experiment and wanted to give time for them to discuss predictions. I also placed survey sheets out with hopes that they would use them in some way.

The day came and we got ready for our melting competition! 

Six pieces of ice!

Student observations during the experiment:


"It's melting because I see a little water coming out." M. S.

"The salt is going into the ice!" R. S.

"It's cracking and there's water coming out of the ice!" B. P.

"The salt made it crack in half!" M. S.

"There's two pieces." S. C.


"It's melting and getting darker." E. E.

"The water is starting to look transparent! The sugar is blending with the water." L. B.

"The sugar got wet and looks grey." A. T.

"The liquid looks transparent!" C. C.

Food colouring

"It's melting and it's painting the bowl!" S. C.

"There is more food colouring on the bottom because it's melting!" A. F.

Cold water

"It's melting sideways." H. S.

"It's smaller and starting to float." O. S.

"I think the cold water one will be second because it's melting and there is no edges." C. D.

Hot water

"It's getting smaller and starting to melt from the middle." K. W.

"It's only half now left!" K. E.

"It's getting shorter and shorter." M. O.

"Now it's floating." K. W.

"Let's bring it in the sun so it melts faster!" (salt) D. C. 

"I hear cracking!" (plain air) Z. G. 

"Maybe the air is making it melt." H. S.

"Maybe the lights." M. O.

"I saw M. O. touch it so maybe his finger is making it melt." H. S.

Our results:

1. Hot water

2. Food colouring

3. Cold water

4. Sugar

5. Salt

6. Plain/air

After the experiment, we had a discussion about things we saw, thought, and wondered...

"The salt cracked half of the ice." M. S.

"Maybe the food colouring is hot and burning inside and melted the ice." J. K.

"The hot water melted first because it is hot and ice needs cold and the hot water makes it melt faster." K. W.

"The cold water in it was one side was thicker and the other side was thinner that's how it melts." H. S.

"The sugar when you poured it off the water was thick." E. E.

"You could see the line when it was melting." O. S.

"When the ice was melting the sugar started to get wet." L. B.

"It looked like painting in a bowl." (Food colouring) A. F.

"It melted really quickly, and I saw it was really dark." (Food colouring) D. A.

"I put two drops of blue and two drops of red. The colours mixed together and it looks black." A. F.

"The ice tipped over when the water was poured on it." W. E.

"First it started melting, then it started to crack only on the side." D. C.

"I think the food colouring has chemicals in it that makes ice melt." A. T.

The students had a lot of fun during the experiment. They were focused on their ice and noted the changes that happened during the melting process. It was nice to see everyone work cooperatively in their group and support each other with their thinking and observations.

To my surprise, this experiment enabled more sparks to form and therefore extended the students' learning further.

A few days later, S. T. brought in an experiment she did at home. She decided to try and freeze ketchup, molasses, milk, and orange juice and see what would happen!

S. T.'s experiment inspired K. E. with an idea for another experiment.

"Let's do a freezing competition?!
1. Oil
2. Paint
3. Glue
4. Alcohol (another student suggested wine, but we opted for rubbing alcohol)
5. Yogurt

The glue, yogurt, alcohol, paint, and oil were then placed into the freezer overnight. The following day the students were excited to see what had happened!

  Student Observations:


"The oil is lighter green." F. D.

"First it was transparent and now it's opaque!" K. W.

"It was a liquid and now it's a solid!" A. T.

"But it's not all the way frozen, it's squishy." W. E.


"You can't see through it it's opaque." M. S.

"There is a little crack." L. B.

"There are some light pieces and some dark pieces." W. E.

"It has black lines in it." F. D.

"You can't paint because it's solid." O. S.


"No it didn't froze because it sticks on your hand!" F. D.

"But freezing makes it solid!" Z. G.

"Is it squishy?" P. I.

"It feels gooey!" H. S.


"It didn't freeze!" H. S.

"It reminds me of the glue because it's squishy." E. E.

"It's cold and sticky." W. E.

"It feels like crushed ice cream." J. K.


"Maybe it's not enough coldness." W. E.

"I feel a little alcohol around the cup." J. K.

"It doesn't look any different. It didn't freeze." J. S.

"There is white on the bottom." B. P.

"It didn't really freeze." M. O.

"It's transparent." K. W.

"When I see through it it looks blurry." J. K.

"Why didn't the alcohol freeze?" A. T.

"Maybe if it has a colour it's easier to freeze?" S. C.

"It didn't freeze because it's still a liquid." F. D.

The students wanted to place all the items back in the freezer to see if it would make a different and they would freeze further. We continue to explore why some things freeze and others don't?

Time watches and rulers were also introduced when O. S. and A. T. asked me if I can time their experiment and if they could have some rulers. This inspired other students to want to try!

We continue to be fascinated by ice and it's melting and freezing magic! Today we noticed lots of melting happening in our school yard. "The season is changing!" K. W.


  1. Brilliant. Engaging. Creative. I love your methodologies!!!

  2. It's truly amazing how focused students can be on one area when really engaged cognitively. These children are going deep in their learning and still fascinated by ice and its properties.