Physics is visible in all sorts of daily activities, and this is especially true when it comes to ice skating. This fun winter activity is a perfect example of being able to see friction, momentum and Newton’s third law all in action to explain why is it that we are able to glide so smoothly over the ice as opposed to slipping. Friction between the blade and the ice is produced when the blade melts small ridges into the ice allowing the blade to easily push off the edge of the ice. The speed created when a figure skater pulls their arms in and spins is a result of the increased angular momentum they pick up with their decreased surface area and drag which in turn helps to increase the skater’s rotation speed as they spin. Lastly, ice skating also displays Newton’s Third Law which states with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is displayed each time a skater pushes off of the ice. With that one push off of the ice, the ice pushes right back and propels the skater forward. All of this combined is sure to equal an “ice” time on the rink.
Grow Your Own Snow!
Forget having to put up with the chill of the winter air and bring the fun into the comfort of your own home by growing your own snow!
- Sodium polyacrylate (white fluffy stuff from clean disposable diapers)
- Collect sodium polyacrylate from inside a clean disposable diaper.
- Place in bowl.
- Add water to desired snow consistency. For slushier snow add more water. For “drier” snow add less water and a little salt.
If decorating with this snow, you may want to have the drier variety and make sure to not place it on items that can be damaged by water. Want to do a yellow snow prank? Just add yellow coloring to the mix. A few drops will go a long way!
How Does Hot Chocolate Work?
When making a cup of hot chocolate, have you ever noticed how difficult it is for the powder to dissolve in cooler milk as opposed to how easily the powder dissolves when the milk is warmer? This all has to do with solubility, the ability for a substance to dissolve. This is because the rate of solubility is much higher the hotter the temperature of the solvent (the milk) poured on the solute (the cocoa powder) is and the solution’s inability to mix properly when the solvent is cold. This is why the hot chocolate powder is able to dissolve easily and form hot chocolate when the temperature of the milk is higher. So, be sure to stick with warm milk and you’ll mix together a perfect hot chocolate solution great for a cold winter day.
Featured Girl in Real Life Science: Dr. Twila Moon, Glaciologist, Big Sky, MT
Twila Moon is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado – Boulder. Moon’s work consists of analyzing ice sheets to help us understand how quickly the ice sheets are changing and how ice interacts with the ocean and atmosphere, which helps us to better understand potential impacts for ocean circulation and biology because of the ice sheets significant contribution to the freshwater in the ocean. She accomplishes this by analyzing data generated from examining satellite images of the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, and going to places such as the small town of Illulisat, Greenland. Moon’s career has not only allowed her to follow her own interests and passions through research and advancements in her field, but it’s also given her the opportunity to constantly learn new things through research, travel and meeting other amazing, smart, fun people.
To learn more about Twila Moon and how “cool” glaciers really are, check out her full interview!
What Are You Doing in January?
Explorer’s University: NASA Challenge!
Are you up to the challenge? Use innovation and creativity to complete challenges developed by NASA educators. Saturday, Jan. 2 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Ages 9-15; $8 for members, $10 for non-members.
GIRLS University: Introduction to Robotics and Coding
Explore types of robots and how they are used in science, medicine, and of course for fun! Learn how robots are programmed and get a chance to program your own light up jewelry; there may even be a surprise appearance by some of your favorite droids, dropping in from a galaxy far, far away! Jan. 23 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; ages 8-14, registration required online or by calling 513-287-7001.