Posted by: Jacquie Fisher   

Winter Science Experiment: How Much Water is in Snow?

Winter is the perfect time for a simple snow science experiment!

My family will tell you that I'm an amateur weather buff -- I like to observe what Mother Nature dishes out to us :)

While watching the Weather Channel one morning, the forecaster was talking about the rain/snow ratio -- basically 1 inch of rain would be equivalent to 13 inches of snow.

Wow!

So I thought it would be interesting to test this during our next snow.

Wouldn't you know it -- we had to wait until mid-February for a good snow to fall!  Which I know is not the case elsewhere this year (apologies to our friends up North & back East who could probably fill up their bathtubs with snow!).


 

snow science experiment

Winter Snow Science Experiment

This is such a quick & easy science experiment that kids from preschool to high school will really enjoy -- only 2 minutes to set-up and some GREAT results! We're including detailed directions so you can replicate this at home or in a classroom along with affiliate links to items that we used during our experiment.

All you'll need for this experiment is:

  • a jar that you can fill with snow (we like to use mason jars for experiments like these)
  • dry erase markers
  • a ruler
  • a sheet of paper/pencil
  • a clock

 

        

And if you're looking for a good book to go with this experiment, try one of these great non-fiction books:

Curious About Snow (Smithsonian)

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder

 

snow science experiment

First, head outside and fill the jar with snow.  Be sure to pack it down some so you have a nice solid amount.

Bring the jar back inside and mark your snow line using the dry erase marker.  This may be difficult as your glass jar will be super cold & wet so the marker may not work right away. 

Then use the ruler to measure the height of the snow in your jar.  We measured 4.25 inches of snow in our jar.

 

easy science activity

Write down the time on a piece of paper (we started our experiment at 2:30 pm).

 

Now ask your kids two questions:

1.  When the snow completely melts, how much water do you think will be left in the jar?

Use the dry erase marker to mark their estimation or 'guess' line (we used a "G" to mark ours). 

You can explain to the kids that an estimation is an educated guess based on what you know about the experiment (in this case, we knew the snow would melt because we brought it inside where the temperature was warmer than 32 degrees).

 

2. How long do you think it will take all the snow to melt?

Write their estimation on the piece of paper.  Our 'guess' was that it would take an hour to melt.

For more details on science & estimations, see this Sink & Float Experiment with free printable.

 

Now go off and do something fun! 

Because it's going to take a while for the snow to melt :)

You might want to take a peek at these 33 Fun Indoor & Outdoor Winter Activities while you wait.

 

snow science for kids

This is what our jar looked like after 1 hour.

At first, we weren't sure the experiment was going to work.  We just saw the snow getting lower but didn't see any water forming in the jar. 

As you can see, we were a bit off with our estimation of how long it would take the snow to melt.  That jar stayed cold for a long time and the packed snow retained it's low temperature until there was enough air surrounding the snow block to melt it from multiple sides.

 

how long does it take snow to melt

When it FINALLY all melted, our jar looked like this. 

A far cry from the original 4.25 inches of snow!

So, how long did it take for the snow to melt? 

Drum roll please .....

 

science experiment with snow

Yep, 3 hours before we had a jar of water.

As my daughter said, it took a loooonng time :)

 

snow melted to water

We used a ruler to measure our results as we were trying to see if we would have the same ratio as the weather forecasters but I'm not sure how they measured their snow melt. 

So for us, 4.25 inches of snow melted to 1 inch of water.

Ideally, I think you would want to measure snow and water as volume but that's harder to do with snow unless you have a really good size measuring cup.

 And just for good measure, we repeated the experiment with a second jar of snow.  This is a great experiment to discuss the idea of how scientists work to replicate their results by running the same experiment more than once.

 

amount of water in snow

Here's the two jars side by side -- the results were very similar with almost the same amount of water.

We were certainly surprised with the results!

Simple Little Home also did this experiment during their book study of Katy & the Big Snow (one of my favorite winter stories!).  The snow they collected produced more water than our snow did which is really interesting and probably has to do with both the temperature and moisture in the air when the snow falls.

Let us know if you try the experiment -- what was your ratio of snow to water? Take a picture and post it to our Facebook page -- we'd love to see your results!

 

Try these other Simple Science Experiments:

The Science of Sound: Make Your Own Gong

Popcorn Math & Science

Make a Tornado in a Bottle

 

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Comments

 
Guest - beth c on Monday, 23 February 2015 18:05

lovely idea- we're snowed in today so i'm off to gather snow to try this experiment out!! thanks :)

lovely idea- we're snowed in today so i'm off to gather snow to try this experiment out!! thanks :)
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