Hooked on Science: Make a snowman melt

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It may not be cold enough outside for snow, but you can still build a snowman and it will even "melt," by using a few materials from around the house.

Materials

* Elmer's glue

* Borax

* Large zip-top bag

* Snowman eyes, scarf, hat and arms

Instructions

STEP 1: Pour 8 ounces of glue into the large zip-top bag.

STEP 2: Mix 2 teaspoons of Borax into 1 cup of warm water.

STEP 3: Mix the glue with the water and Borax inside the large zip-top bag.

STEP 4: Remove the contents from the zip-top bag. Separate the contents into three pieces. Create a large piece, a medium piece, and a small piece. Form each piece into a sphere. Create a snowman. Allow your snowman to set on a flat surface for a few hours.

Explanation

After a few hours your snowman will "melt." Scientifically speaking, the snowman is not actually "melting." This experiment has a lot to do with the chains of molecules in the glue not freezing and thawing. The Elmer's glue has long chains of molecules that move past each other freely. When the Borax solution is added to the glue, the chains of molecules link together, causing the molecules in the glue to not move as freely. Therefore, it takes longer for the chains of molecules to move past each other, and after a few hours the snowman "melts."

Jason Lindsey is a science outreach educator with Hooked on Science. Check out his website www.hookedonscience.org for webcasts and experiments.

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