Ice Cold Chemistry – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Ice Cold Chemistry

Ice Cold Chemistry

Chemistry is not just cool – it can be ice cold! Children experiment with colored ice cubes, novel tools, vinegar and more in this fun ice melting activity.

Learning Goals

  • Come Up with New Ideas and Try Them Out
  • Take Risks and Try Them Out
  • Build STEM Knowledge

Materials Required

  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup water
  • Liquid watercolor
  • Large bowl
  • Spoon
  • Ice cube trays and/or freezable bowls or containers of varying sizes
  • Vinegar
  • Tools for dripping vinegar onto ice, including: pipettes or eyedroppers, paint brushes, or small spoons
  • Large plastic tubs
  • Glitter (optional)


  • The day before, let your child help you combine the baking soda, cornstarch, water, liquid watercolor, and glitter—if using—in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into ice trays and other containers, and freeze overnight.
  • Make additional ice cubes using only water, some using baking soda and water, and some using cornstarch and water. The liquid watercolor and glitter can be added to all, some, or none of these additional ice cubes.
  • On the day of, empty all your frozen ice cubs into the large plastic tubs, separated by the ingredients in the ice cubes.
  • Help your child use the eyedroppers/pipettes, spoons, or paintbrushes to drop vinegar onto the ice cubes. Point out how the colors mix as the ice cubes melt.
  • Ask your child to compare and contrast how each type of ice cube behaves as it mixes with the vinegar and begins to melt. 

Tips for Adults

  • Make the activity even more fun by introducing iodine as an additional ingredient and see how the color changes when the iodine mixes with the cornstarch.
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