Turn a Snow Day into a Science Lesson

Many students learn early on about the forms of water (liquid, solid, gas), but the transition between them can remain a mystery. Turn a snow day into a science lesson with this easy experiment that tracks the phase change between solid water in the form of snow to liquid water. The results may surprise you!

Materials
2 clear containers with known sizes
Snow
Ruler or measuring tape*
Dish with sides (optional)
*to simplify this experiment for younger children, use a container already marked with units of measurement

Instructions
1. State your hypothesis. How much liquid water do you think is in 1 oz. of snow?

2. Pack your clear containers tightly with snow. (We used two different sizes of mason jars to increase our test size.)

3. Measure the snow. If your jars don’t have marks on the side to measure the contents, you’ll need to know the jar’s ounces and use a ruler or a tape measure to measure the height of the container. Our large 16 oz. jar measured at 5 in., while the small 8 oz. jar measured at 4 in.

4. Let your containers sit for about 3.5 hours so all the snow melts. You can place them in a dish with a small lip to catch any condensation. You may notice early on how quickly the snow shrinks as it melts.

5. When your snow is completely melted, observe how much water is left in the containers. How does the amount compare with your hypothesis?

6. Measure the level of the water. Our large jar measured at 1 9/16 in or 1.5625 in., while our small jar measured at 1 3/8 in or 1.375 in.

7. If your containers don’t have units of measurement marked on the sides, use your ounces to inches ratio that you recorded in Step 3 to cross multiply and calculate how many ounces of water are left.

Large Jar
16 oz. SNOW/5 in. = 5 oz. WATER/1.5625 in.

16 oz. of snow = 5 oz. of water

Small Jar
8 oz. SNOW/4 in. = 2.75 oz. WATER/1.375 in.

8 oz. of snow = 2.75 oz. of water

8. Simplify your equations to find out how much water is in 1 oz of snow. Divide the remaining ounces of water by the original ounces of snow.

Big Jar: 5 ÷ 16 = .31 oz. of water in 1 oz. of snow.
Small Jar: 2.75 ÷ 8 = .34 of water in 1 oz. of snow.

Our results were slightly different, but this could be due to one jar of snow getting packed more tightly than the other. If you get different results, you can try the experiment again or take the average.

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