Learning in the Classroom with Penguin Brand™ Dry Ice

in Cool Science

We had the pleasure of attending the NSTA STEM Forum & Expo at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida July 12-14, 2017. If you were at the conference, you had the chance to see our booth and attend our workshop. Featuring Crystal Chatterton of The Science Kiddo, our workshop displayed some engaging and creative ways to teach kids about pH levels, cloud formations and more using dry ice. In case you missed it, we decided to feature those experiments right here for easy use in your next lesson plan. Check out the exercises below and let us know how much your students loved them! Under adult supervision, all of these demonstrations are appropriate for students from preschool age and up. As long as proper safety precautions are taken with regard to the dry ice, these activities are safe and can be adapted for any kind of classroom setting. The Penguin always recommends using tongs, towels, or gloves to handle dry ice, and keeping it a safe distance from small children.

I. Introduction to Dry Ice, Sublimation & Changing States of Matter

  Dry Ice versus Wet Ice   Supplies Needed:
  • 2 Plastic bowls
  • 2 ounces of dry ice
  • 2 ounces of ice cubes
  • Kitchen Scale
  • Place the dry ice in one bowl and the ice cubes in another bowl
  • Observe as the dry ice sublimes (turns from a solid to a gas) while the ice cube melts (turns from a solid to a liquid). Once all of the dry ice sublimes there will be nothing left in the bowl, but once all of the ice cubes melt there will be water in the bowl.
  Dry Ice Vapor   Supplies Needed:
  • 2 2-Liter clear beakers
  • 8 Cups of warm water
  • 8 Cups of vegetable oil
  • 2 4-oz chunks of dry ice
  • Fill one beaker with warm water and the other with vegetable oil
  • Place one piece of dry ice into each beaker
  • Notice how the dry ice in water creates a large amount of vapor while the dry ice in oil doesn’t create any. This is because when dry ice is added to water it combines with the water to create fog (carbon dioxide and water vapor). The dry ice in oil simply sublimes into the atmosphere.
  Cloud in a Bag Supplies Needed:
  • Clear 1 gallon pitcher
  • 3 Quarts of warm water
  • 1/2 Pound of dry ice
  • Gallon-sized Ziploc baggie
  • Fill the pitcher about ¾ full of warm water
  • Place a chunk of dry ice into the water
  • Watch as a cloud is formed above the water level in the pitcher
  • Discuss that clouds are made of condensed water droplets in the air. The cloud above the dry ice water is made of the same thing.
  • Open a plastic baggie wide and carefully “dump” the dry ice cloud into the baggie. Quickly seal it up and enjoy the cloud in a bag for a few moments before the water evaporates again and the cloud disperses.
  Bubble Volcano   Supplies Needed:
  • 5 Liter clear Erlenmeyer flask
  • 3 Liters of warm water
  • 1/2 Pound of dry ice
  • 1 Teaspoon liquid dish soap
  • 2 Drops of food coloring (optional)
  • Bowl to catch the overflow
  • Towels
  • Fill a flask about halfway full of warm water
  • Place a chunk of dry ice into the water
  • Drip 2 drops of food coloring into the water, just for fun
  • Squirt a bit of liquid dish soap into the container
  • Watch as the solution erupts with bubbles full of carbon dioxide gas

II. Density and Solubility

Make a Lava Lamp   Supplies Needed:
  • 2 Liter clear beaker
  • 4 Cups of water
  • 4 Drops of food coloring
  • 4 Cups of vegetable oil
  • Tiny sliver of dry ice
  • Fill a beaker about halfway full of warm water
  • Mix food coloring into the water
  • Add 2 cups of vegetable oil to the beaker. Notice how oil and water do not mix and how the oil floats on top.
  • Drop a small sliver of dry ice into the beaker. Watch how bubbles full of water vapor and carbon dioxide float up through the oil layer and pop on the surface.

III. How Dry Ice Acidifies Water

  Red Cabbage pH Experiment with Dry Ice   *Please note that carbonic acid is not dangerous if handled properly. In this experiment we are essentially making seltzer water (carbonated water). Weak acids such as carbonic acid, citric acid, ascorbic acid, and acetic acid are found in many foods we commonly eat and drink such as soda pop, lemons, oranges and vinegar.   Supplies Needed:
  • 4 1000-mL Erlenmeyer flasks
  • 6 Cups of filtered water
  • 2 Tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1/4 Pound of dry ice
  • 2 Cups of vinegar
  • 2 Cups of red cabbage juice (boiled red cabbage and strained)
  • Fill three flasks halfway with water
  • Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to one flask and a chunk of dry ice to another flask. Leave one flask alone as the control. (Pure water.)
  • Add 2 cups of vinegar to the fourth flask
  • Arrange the flasks from basic to most acidic: baking soda solution, plain water, dry ice, vinegar
  • Pour ½ cup of red cabbage juice into each flask
  • The baking soda solution will be blue, the neutral flask will be purple, the dry ice and water flask will be purplish pink, and the vinegar flask will be bright pink
  • Red cabbage contains a compound called anthocyanin that turns different colors depending on its environment. It is a great pH indicator. Dry ice carbonates water, creating carbonic acid. This has a pH between neutral water and vinegar, which can be seen from its color.
  IV. The Relationship Between Temperature and Pressure   Invert a Balloon into a Bottle   Supplies Needed:
  • 1000-mL Erlenmeyer flask
  • 1000 mL of warm water
  • Empty bowl
  • 1 Party balloon
  • Bowl full of water and dry ice
  • Fill the flask with warm water
  • Dump out the warm water into an empty bowl and promptly stretch a balloon over the mouth of the flask
  • Place the flask in the bowl with dry ice to cool it down
  • Watch as the balloon slowly gets sucked into the bottle and expands inside of it
  • As the temperature decreases inside the bottle, so does the pressure. This creates a vacuum, making the balloon invert and expand inside of the bottle.
  Collapse a Plastic Bottle   Supplies Needed:
  • 2-Liter plastic bottle with a lid
  • 2 Liters of warm water
  • Empty bowl
  • Bowl with dry ice and water
  • Fill the plastic bottle with warm water
  • Dump out the warm water into the empty bowl and quickly screw on the cap
  • Place the bottle in the bowl with dry ice to cool it down
  • Watch as the bottle collapses and folds into itself
  • As the temperature falls inside the bottle, so does the pressure. This creates a vacuum, crushing the bottle from the outside in.
  *Thanks to Crystal Chatterton for a great workshop! Visit her website at cwww.ScienceKiddo.com or contact her via email at Chattertonrystal@sciencekiddo.com

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