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A visit to APL by Ms. Davis’ 2nd Grade Class
Laurelhurst Elementary School, Seattle, March 29, 2004

This visit was arranged by Ellen Lettvin, APL Assistant Director for Education and Development. OK, the thing is, her son is in this class! Personal connections usually are key…

Over the past year I’ve developed a kid’s sea ice “show” which includes pictures of sea ice, native peoples, and animals. I also show them instrumentation (CTD’s, XCP’s) and cold weather gear (big coats and boots). But the real star of the show is the liquid nitrogen, which I use to freeze various things like flowers, bananas, paper, and of course, water, both fresh and salty. For more details, see my visit to Lowell Elementary School in November, 2003.

Here are some highlights of the Laurelhurst visit:

Pouring liquid nitrogen into a container. We discussed that air is mostly nitrogen. “What do you think it takes to make it into a liquid?”

Freezing a flower. I try to get one with lots of petals. “Hey, it looks pretty much like it did BEFORE I put it into the liquid nitrogen! How do you think it’s different?!” Then I crash it into a zillion pieces.
Freezing a banana. I wasn’t going to do this, but they pleaded with me!
An air balloon is released from the liquid nitrogen and puffs up as it warms. Wow!
OK, time to do some arctic science. We (Mike and Wendy) filled small balloons, some with fresh water and others with salty water (with student assistance, of course). Then we made ice in “faster than real time!” Here I am showing a sample of each. “How will you figure out which is which?”
We use food coloring to distinguish fresh from salty ice. The salty ice sucks the dye into its brine channels!
Sea ice is soft; fresh ice is much harder. A mallet is useful for illustrating this, and of course it’s great fun to smash things, too!
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Polar Science Center
Applied Physics Laboratory
1013 NE 40th Street
Seattle, WA 98105

University of Washington

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0230427.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
National Science Foundation.

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