STEAM Saturday – Ice Lantern! (2/18/2023)

While it hasn’t been the coldest winter, it is still winter, and that means it’s still the perfect time to do a fun activity with ice!  Creating an ice lantern will help your child’s art and engineering skills, and will teach them about the expansion and contraction of water molecules.  According to STEAM Powered Family this is a Christmas activity, but we think you can make these beautiful ice lanterns all year round!

You’ll need:

  • A large plastic cup (like a Solo cup)
  • A small plastic cup
  • Decorations like pipe cleaners, pom poms, and anything else colorful you’d like to see in your lantern, including leaves, small pebbles, etc.
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Tape
  • Stones or other weighted items
  • Water
  • A battery-operated candle (these are available at the dollar store)

First, decide on your decorations.  Pipe cleaners are handy because they will hold their shape, you can spiral them up the outside of the large cup, and you can balance your other decorations on them.  Just be aware that your smaller decorations may move once you add water.  Once you are done placing your decorations, slide your small cup into the center of the large cup (with the decorations around the outside).  Tape the small cup in place so that the tops of the two cups are flush.  Also add some weight to the small cup.  These will hold the small cup in place as you add your water.  You can also add a few drops of food coloring before adding your water (this step is optional).

Now carefully add your water to the large cup, making sure none of it gets inside the small cup.  Leave about an inch at the top of the cup to make room for the expansion of the water as it freezes.  Now it’s time to put your lantern in the freezer!  Make sure to leave it in until it is completely frozen.

Once the lantern is frozen, cut the cups away (you might need to help your little one with this), put in your candle, and admire your beautiful lantern!

See the full experiment and the science behind it from STEAM Powered Family HERE.

As always, get as creative as you want, and above all, have lots of fun learning together!

We’ll see you right back here next Saturday for another STEAM Saturday activity!  Scroll through the rest of our website to learn how Critchlow Adkins is Building Brighter Futures for the children and families we serve!

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