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Dry Ice Science Fair Projects

Ideas for Dry Ice Science Fair Projects

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Dry ice bubbles as it sublimates in water.

Dry ice bubbles as it sublimates in water.

Anne Helmenstine
There are a lot of interesting science fair projects you can do using dry ice. Here are some ideas that you can use as-is or can modify to make your own unique science fair project.
  • How can you store dry ice so that it lasts? Caution: Do not place dry ice in a sealed container, since the pressure build-up may cause it to burst.

  • Does dry ice sublimate more quickly in air, water, oil, etc.? Can you explain why?

  • If you put dry ice in water, how cold does the water need to be before the dry ice stops producing fog?

  • Experiment with a dry ice sound lens. Sound travels more slowly in carbon dioxide than it does in air. If you fill a balloon or rubber glove with carbon dioxide by allowing dry ice to sublimate, you can hold the balloon about a foot away from your ear and listen for sounds that normally would appear very faint, such as the ticking of a clock or dropping of a pin. What is the best distance to hold the balloon from your ear? Do both of your ears hear equally well? Be safe! Do not use a balloon that still contains a piece of dry ice or one that is full where it is likely to burst. The popping of a balloon near your ear could cause injury. Just use a balloon or glove that contains a lot of carbon dioxide, but isn't in danger of popping.

  • Can you find a way to harness the power of dry ice sublimation so that it can power a device? A Hero's Engine can be made by puncturing opposite sides of a plastic film canister with a tack or pin held by pliers. Tie a loop in a piece of thread and catch the loop between the lid and the container so you can suspend the canister. When you put a piece of dry ice in the canister and close the lid, what happens? What happens if you change the pattern of the holes? What happens if you place the device in water? Not everyone has a film canister available, so you can substitute other containers, but you need to keep in mind your container can burst if too much pressure builds up. Look for containers that have plastic lids that can 'pop' off under pressure.

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