S.T.E.A.M. Activity | Winter Ice Lantern

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While winter officially started in December, the cold weather has us wanting to experiment with water and ice! Talk with your children about water and its different forms. Water can occur in three states: solid (ice), liquid or gas (vapor).

Liquid water is wet and fluid. This is the form of water with which we are most familiar. We use liquid water in many ways, including washing and drinking. Ice is frozen water. When water freezes, its molecules move farther apart. This means that ice will be lighter than the same volume of water. This is why ice will float in water. 

Water vapor (gas) is always present in the air around us, you just can’t see it. When you boil water, the water changes from a liquid to a gas or water vapor. As some of the water vapor cools, we see it as a small cloud called steam. This cloud of steam is a mini version of the clouds we see in the sky. 

What You’ll Need: 

  • Large plastic cup (like a Solo cup)
  • Small plastic cup
  • Small decorative pieces like pompoms, beads, pipe cleaners, etc.
  • Tape
  • Rocks or other weighted objects
  • Water
  • A freezer 
  • Battery operated candle 
  • Food coloring (optional to add color to the water) 

What To Do:


Place your cups together and start to drop your decorations between them. We found it was best to take pipe cleaners and twist them so they spiraled up the outside of the large cup. They will help hold other decorations in place.


Carefully start to add water between the two cups so the water only goes into the larger cup. Add a rock or two to the smaller cup to keep it in place and stop it popping up. Use tape to hold the cups together, in place. Fill until the water is only a tiny bit from from the top.


Place in the freezer for 5 hours or until completely frozen.


Remove the inside plastic cup, then the outer plastic cup. If needed, place warm water in the inner cup and run water on the outside cup to loosen. 


Turn on your battery-operated candle, set it inside your holder, and enjoy the soft glow! •