Spooky Science: Dry Ice Fun

Hello again! I’m Nerd in the Brain, and I’m so excited to be back here at Part Time Monster to share some more spooky science with you! (Let’s all take a moment to thank a very wonderful monster for hosting this bit of science fun!)

I know that Halloween is right around the corner (less than a week away!), so I’m going to focus on some activities that are quick and easy to do. You probably have most of the supplies (other than the dry ice, of course) in your home already. If not, everything used is inexpensive and easy to come by.

Okay, let’s get started with some dry ice fun!dry ice bubble ghost title

As usual, we have some safety warnings to tend to before we really get this party started:

Dry ice can hurt you! Do NOT touch dry ice with any of your (or anyone else’s) body parts. Use thick gloves to handle dry ice. (Oven mitts or work gloves are just perfect.) If you’re too young to sign a legally binding contract, this is definitely a “grown up supervision required” set of activities. (Okay, teenagers can totally handle this alone as long as they use some good sense…but why wouldn’t their grown ups want to see all of this???)

 

Okay, now that I’m certain everyone will be safe, let’s bust out the dry ice!

Activity 1: The Shrieking Spoon

The supplies needed for this activity are quite minimal:dry ice spoon

 

  • a plate
  • a piece of dry ice (about the size of a bar of soap is plenty big enough)
  • a spoon

Now I have some very complex instructions for you:

Step 1: Touch the spoon to the dry ice.

dry ice spoon 2

 

Step 2: Stand around wide-eyed wondering what just happened. 🙂

 

Step 3: Begin to tinker with things to see how loud you can make that spoon shriek. Use different angles and amounts of pressure. Try setting the spoon on the plate next to the dry ice. (Oddly, this worked for me if I put the spoon on the plate first and then added dry ice, but not the other way around. Weird.) Now you can move on to other shrieking objects. Will a fork shriek? A knife? Personally, I found tweezers to be the most pleasing of the shrieking objects at our house. 🙂

 

Activity 2: The Magically Inflating Balloon

The supplies, again, are minimal:

dry ice balloon

  • small pieces of dry ice
  • a balloon
  • a sink full of warm (not hot) water (not pictured…obviously) 😉

Step 1: Ever-so-carefully stretch the opening of the balloon and drop a couple of small pieces of dry ice inside. Tie the balloon off and take a moment to marvel at the fact that the balloon is already starting to expand a bit.

 

Step 2: Plop that balloon right in the sink of warm water and watch the magic happen. If your balloon sinks at first, that’s just fine…it’ll pop back up as it expands.dry ice balloon 2

 

Step 3: Keeeep watching. Your balloon will keep expanding for several minutes. Be warned! If you used a lot of dry ice, your balloon may pop. Mentally prepare yourself (and those around you) for that possibility.

dry ice ballon 3

 

Step 4: While you have that sink of warm water just sitting there, it would be madness not to throw a chunk of dry ice in there to watch the bubbly, spooky fun.dry ice water

 

Step 5: And it would be even more madness to not add red food coloring to the mix to see what happens. Will it be a gory bath of bubbling bloooood?dry ice red water

 

Activity 3: Make a Ghost Blow His Top

For a third time, we have a quick and easy to gather list of supplies…though one part does require a bit of prep work:dry ice bubble ghost

 

  • small pieces of dry ice
  • a tall, narrow vase or container about 1/3 full of warm water
  • dish soap
  • a coffee filter with a fun ghost face drawn on (that’s the prep part)

Step 1: Add a few drops of dish soap to the water in the vase. (Really, I mean a few drops. If you dump in a ton of dish soap, things are getting ready to get crazy in your house…which can also be spiffy.) 🙂

 

Step 2: Add the dry ice to the water and dish soap mixture. Super-bubbly fun is going to happen quickly!dry ice bubble ghost 2

 

Step 3: Before the bubbles get to the top of the container, place your ghost on top of the whole thing. Watch with giggles and glee as “smoke” pours from your ghost before the spirit begins to float away, leaving a mess of smoke-filled bubbles in his wake.

Step 4: Once your ghost is all soggy, it’s worth repeating this whole process without the ghost just to watch the bubbles grow and wander. 🙂

dry ice bubbles

 

 

If you’d like to turn this into an actual science lesson, there are oodles of discussion points! Why does dry ice behave that way in warm water? What is sublimation? Do things need to be hot to boil? (There’s a field day of discussion on that question alone!) What gas is being given off by the dry ice? Just what the heck is happening with that spoon? How could dry ice possibly cause metal to make noise? How can an amount of dry ice that will easily fit inside an uninflated balloon turn into enough gas to completely inflate the balloon? So, so many things to talk about with gas laws and states of matter and sound!

I do hope you enjoyed you enjoy all of your dry ice fun!

Do you think you’ll be playing with dry ice at your house or school? What’s your favorite thing to do with dry ice?  Do you have other science activities you like to do for Halloween? 

If you’re interested in more science activities, general Halloween fun, and general nerdly silliness, you can visit me at my blog, Nerd in the Brain.

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10 Comments

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  1. these look like great fun, but… i wouldn’t even know where to get dry ice? (yeah, i know, an internet search will probably clear that right up. just sayin’) — is it pretty easy to get a hold of dry ice in the US?

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    1. In the US, a lot of grocery stores sell dry ice. You do have to go to the customer service desk to purchase it…I guess they kind of hide it so people don’t hurt themselves with it. 🙂 Honestly, I don’t know if other countries do the same thing. Maybe you could call your local grocery store to ask if they have it…if not, maybe they know where you can get some. 🙂 I do hope you find some…it’s so fun to play with! 😀

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  2. It’s tempting but I’m always afraid of dry ice. And I’m not good with experiments. They never turn out for me. Just the other day I did an experiment (for reaction), followed instructions to the letter, and it didn’t work. Then there was my gummy bear experiment that I had to do twice for it to work. Really, what’s so difficult about putting gummies in water? But for me, it didn’t work the first time. They dissolved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe. That happens to me more than you would probably guess. I frequently have to attempt things more than once…and, sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get things to work. The beauty of dry ice, though, is that just putting it in water makes for some pretty amazing fun. I promise you that dropping dry ice in warm water will get results. 😀 (If not, we probably need to do a whole new science exploration!) I’ll admit, I was a bit scared of dry ice the first time I used it, too, but it’s not as bad as you might think. As long as you use gloves, it’s pretty safe. 🙂 If you decide to do the dry ice activities, I hope you share on Instagram!

      Liked by 1 person

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