Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Explorit: Chemistry is behind winter’s frost

By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise

The grass is white and crunchy, the sidewalk slippery and the car windows opaque. The frost has come. But what comprises this icy coating is a beautiful chemistry-induced wonder of nature!

Frost happens when humid air gets so cold that it can’t hold water anymore. When that happens, the water condenses and gets deposited on the ground or other surface.

But frost is special because it never passes through the liquid phase; it goes straight from a gas to a solid. Any water that was already on the ground and just freezes isn’t frost. The important difference is shape.

What sets frost apart from other icy formations is its crystal shape. Crystals can come in different sizes and be made of different materials, but they all have atoms that are arranged in regular, repeating geometric patterns. So no matter what a crystal is made of, it will have smooth, flat sides and fine points on the ends.

Take a morning stroll around your neighborhood and get a good look at the frost you find in different places: on a plant, on the ground or hanging from a roof. Use a magnifying glass to see the frost crystals up close.

How many crystal shapes can you find? How big are they? In what places do you find the most crystals or biggest crystals?

If you just can’t get enough crystals, there’s no need to wait until the next frost. You can make some crystals in a cup with a little chemistry.

You’ll need: two Styrofoam cups, a charcoal briquette, measuring spoons, salt, water, ammonia, liquid laundry bluing (available at a drug store), food coloring and an adult to help you work with chemicals safely.

Start out by placing your briquette in the bottom of one of your Styrofoam cups. The cup will keep your crystals contained as they begin to grow.

In the other cup, combine five tablespoons of salt, five tablespoons of water, five tablespoons of ammonia and one tablespoon of liquid laundry bluing. Stir them all together, then pour them over your charcoal briquette.

Once you add your chemical mixture to your briquette, try not to move it around too much. These crystals will break easily and you won’t want to disturb them.

You can now add a few drops of food coloring. Adding drops of different colors will create a variegated garden of crystals.

Now, set your crystal garden aside, but keep an eye on it. The crystals will begin to grow in about 20 minutes, and can keep on growing for about two days.

As they develop, make note of what you observe. How big are these crystals? How many crystals are there in your cup? How are these crystals different from the frost crystals you’ve observed?

Explorit’s coming events:

* Winter break: Explorit’s Beyond the Table exhibition will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 21. This Saturday and Sunday, visitors may make fingerprint corn cobs.

* Fun on the Farm: Join us every Saturday and Sunday in January for a special farm activity. It’s free with paid admission to the regular exhibition.

— Explorit Science Center is at 3141 Fifth St. in Mace Ranch. For more information, call 530-756-0191 or visit www.explorit.org

Special to The Enterprise

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

UC Davis biodigester hungers for food scraps

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Council votes to look at reducing water bills

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

New mosaic mural reflects Peña family history

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Penalty decision looms in Winters homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Hay bales burn east of Davis

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Woman killed by train ID’d

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Pro-Russian insurgents hold journalist captive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Bible fun featured at Parents’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Davis businesswoman presides over conference

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Birch Lane sells garden plants, veggies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Team Blend hosts fundraiser for Nicaragua project

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

Davis Arts Center: See ceramics, join the Big Day of Giving

By Erie Vitiello | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fire damages Woodland home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

Register to vote by May 19

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Sign up for enviro organizations during Earth Week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Sunder hosts campaign event for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Church hosts discussion of mental health needs, services

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
UCD to host premiere of autism documentary

By Cory Golden | From Page: A4

UFC hears from two local historians

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Fundraiser benefits Oakley campaign

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Fire crews gather for joint training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Odd Fellows host culinary benefit for nonprofit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

400 bikes go up for bids at UCD auction

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
UCD professor to talk about new book

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Fly Fishers talk to focus on healthy streams, rivers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Train to become a weather spotter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Learn survival skills at Cache Creek Preserve

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Veterans, internees may receive overdue diplomas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

UC Davis conference showcases undergraduate research

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Conservation District celebrates its stewardship efforts

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Slow Food tour showcases area’s young farmers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

 
.

Forum

Even a safe house needs boundaries

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
My votes reflect city values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
A plea on the Bard’s birthday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
I support Sunder for board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Will anyone notice?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

Davis gets to Grant ace and rolls in DVC crucial

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Walchli is under par in another Devil victory

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Seniors send Blue Devil girls past Broncos in a lacrosse rout

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS thunders back to win an epic DVC volleyball match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

DHS/Franklin I goes to the Blue Devil softballers

By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Baseball roundup: Rangers rally to beat A’s in the ninth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Sharks go up 3-0 with OT win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

Field to fork: El Macero’s chef offers spring tastes

By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

 
Five Three Oh! featured at April Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Celebrate spring at I-House on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Music, wine flow at Fourth Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Biscuits ‘n Honey will play at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Catharine ‘Kay’ Lathrop

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6