Create Ice Cores science experiment : Fizzics Education


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Create Ice Cores

Create Ice Cores

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

  • Dry ice from a local gas supplier
  • A small plastic container 1/2 filled with water
  • Detergent
  • Food colouring
  • Tongs & gloves
  • Adult supervision

SAFETY: If burnt by dry ice, treat as you would a heat burn, starting with running the injured skin under cool water for 10 minutes. Seek medical treatment

To dispose of dry ice, place container in a well-ventilated area with the lid off, out of reach of children. It will sublimate away naturally over time.


Create ice cores with dry ice experiment - materials needed
1 Create ice cores with dry ice experiment - pouring food colouring into water

Add a few drops of food colouring to the water.

2 Create ice cores with dry ice experiment - adding dry ice to water

Add dry ice piece by piece and allow it to sublimate rapidly.

As you add the dry ice you will notice it starting to form clumps at the bottom of the container. This is where the surrounding water cools down enough to freeze.

3 Create ice cores with dry ice experiment - dry ice stuck to bottom of container

Keep adding dry ice until a solid clump of ice/dry ice is at the bottom of the container. Within the ice you will no doubt have small white ‘frozen bubbles’ of carbon dioxide.

4 Create ice cores with dry ice experiment - adding detergent to dry ice and water

If you wish, you can add a small squirt of detergent into the mix to trap the bubbles of carbon dioxide leaving the solution.

5 Fizzics Education making a cloud from liquid nitrogen and hot water at MAAS
6 Teacher showing how to do an experiment outside to a group of kids.

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– Help students learn how science really works

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Why Does This Happen?

When you make an ice cube, you invariably trap very minute air bubbles within the ice. The humble ice cube effectively is acting as a time capsule, holding air inside it from when it was formed. Air contains many gases, some of which are suggested to enhance global warming.

As polar ice can be thousands of years old, climatologists work within these remote regions to study the ice for changes in composition of atmospheric gases over thousands of years.

The data is collected from ice cores, effectively long tubes of ice taken from vertical sections of glaciers. As each season produces a different layer of snow, the ice cores can be ‘read’ quite accurately, a process similar to dating sedimentary deposits in riverine areas or the determining seasonal variation using growth rings of trees.

Each year has it’s own record of gases within it, therefore scientists can use this record as a monitoring tool for dramatic changes in our atmosphere. One such dramatic change has been the rapid rise in carbon dioxide levels found within the these ice cores, a gas strongly suspected as causing the most damage in trapping excess solar heat energy within our atmosphere.

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