Does it snow where you live? If not, let’s bring snow to your kids with this snowstorm in a jar STEM experiment that will have your kids go “oOoOo” and “ahhhhh”!
Since we don’t get snow in SoCal (at least not where I live), it’s difficult to explain the concept of snow to my kids. But in the wintertime, you can’t help but hear about snow.
Hence, my children are very curious about snow, especially what snow looks like falling from the sky.
Snowstorm in a jar science experiment is perfect for showing your kids what a snow blizzard looks like! Plus, it’s just a cool STEM experiment to do with your kids.
How to Make Snowstorm in a Jar
- Baby oil (you can use vegetable oil as well but the liquid will be yellow)
- White paint
- Alka-Seltzer tablets
- Clear glass jar
- Paper towel or tissue paper
- Glitter (optional)
- Blue food coloring (optional)
1. Fill up ¼ of the jar with water.
2. Add about a teaspoon of white paint in the water and stir to mix. The mixture should look like milk. If necessary add more paint.
3. Fill up the rest of the jar with baby oil. Let the water and paint mixture settle to the bottom.
4. Add glitter in the mixture if desired (not necessary but it makes the snowstorm prettier).
5. Add a few drops of blue food coloring if desired (to simulate the color of the sky).
6. Let the water/paint mixture settle on the bottom.
7. Break up an Alka-Seltzer tablet and drop the broken up pieces one at a time into the jar.
8. Watch the magic happen!
The Science Behind the Snowstorm in a Jar
There are a few science lessons to teach your kids here:
- Oil and water don’t mix. The water molecules are polar, which means they have a small positive charge at one end and a small negative charge at the other end. Therefore, they are attracted to each other like a magnet and form strong bonds. Oil molecules are non-polar, and therefore they are more attracted to each other than water molecules.
- Oil is less dense than water. Therefore, the water mixed paint sinks to the bottom, while the water remains on top.
- When you drop Alka-Seltzer tablets, which contains baking soda, into the water, the reaction between the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and citric acid and hydrogen oxide (water) creates carbon dioxide gas. The bubbles filled with carbon dioxide gas push the water and paint mixture upward, but the oil exerts pressure downward and pushes the mixture back down – creating the snow effect.
I hope you and your kids have a lot of fun doing this experiment! Originally we did it without adding the blue food coloring, and it created more of a white winter effect. But we then added some blue food coloring and the kids loved seeing the blue “snow” as well.
And that’s the beauty of the snowstorm in a jar experiment! You can do it more than once! Just let the water and paint mixture settle down again before you add more Alka-Seltzer tablets.
Looking for more winter crafts and activities? Check out: