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Lassoing an Ice Cube

Here is a fun experiment that can also be a challenge to your friends! Tell then that you can “catch” an ice cube with a loop of thread. Let them try it. It will be fun to watch as they make loops with the thread and do other funny things to try to lift the ice cube.

But the secret isn't in your skill as a cowboy. The secret is in the science!

What you'll need -

  • Glass of water
  • Ice cube
  • Shaker of table salt
  • Piece of thread tied with a loop

How to do it - You can do it by laying the thread across the top of an ice cube. Pour some salt over the thread and the ice cube, then wait about 30 seconds. Lift the thread, and the ice cube will stick to the thread and be lifted into the air!

What is happening? The salt melts the ice. The thread will sink into the water as the ice melts. When it freezes again, the thread will become attached to the cube! It's like magic!

The salt lowers the freezing temperature of the water. This is the same reason we use salt in icy roads in the winter. Salt keeps the water from freezing into ice, and wet roads are safer and not as slippery as icy roads.

How can you make this into an experiment? Remember the scientific method. Think of different variables you can use to test how salt reacts with ice. Here are some examples:

  • Control the amount of salt you add. Does more or less salt change the way ice melts?
  • Try adding salt to water and see if it freezes at a different rate than water without salt
  • Mix different amounts of salt into bags of ice, shake them up, and check their temperatures
  • What else can you change and make comparisons?

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