STEAM Experiment: Christmas Edition

December 27, 2018
Written by:
Tasha Swearingen

In this spirit of Christmas giving and receiving, you’ve probably had your fair share of handmade gifts by now. Perhaps you’ve painted a wooden frame or you might have even created ornaments or snow globes with your kids. In this month’s STEAM activity, we’re going to take a closer look at what creating a snowglobe involves and the science behind it!

DIY Snowglobes for KidsHandmade snowglobes are the perfect STEAM project for Christmas!

While we could’ve chosen store-bought snow globes for this activity, we thought putting one together with your children would give more meaning to the science behind snow globes. To make a snow globe, you’ll need an empty glass jar. Size doesn’t matter; the bigger the jar, the larger your snow globe! If you tend to like working with miniatures, choose an empty baby food jar. If you like being able to see all the objects you add, choose a mason jar or empty spaghetti sauce jar. It’s totally up to you!

After deciding on the size of your jar, choose what figurines you’d like inside it. Once you decide, glue the figurines to the inside of the jar lid. Next, fill the jar with water and about 1-2 tablespoons of glitter. (Note: at this point, you can also add glycerin. It’s not necessary, but it does make the glitter float better.) Screw the lid on tight and you’re finished!

Why Do Objects Sink or Float?

As you put together your snowglobe, your kids may have asked for some ideas about what to include and what they definitely should not include. Thinking on your toes, you probably found some objects you knew would float, objects you knew would sink, and even objects you were unsure about.

So what causes objects to sink or float? Density.

Density determines whether an object will sink or float when placed in another substance. If the object is less dense than the object it’s placed in, then it will float. If it’s denser than the solution it’s placed in, then it will sink.

An object’s density – not to be confused with its weight – is the degree of compactness of a substance. Two objects may have different weights but still have the same density. If their density is less than that of water, the two objects will float – even though one is heavier than the other.

Note: In this STEAM activity, we mentioned that you could add glycerin when you were adding the water. This was solely because glycerin helps glitter float better and had no scientific implications for the results.

When comparing two objects side by side, it may surprise you to learn which objects sink and which will float. Remember, you’re making predictions about an object’s density compared to that of water (in the case of snowglobes). Were your predictions accurate? Did you need to re-evaluate any predictions? Use our FREE STEAM printable below to record your results!

STEAM/STEM Experiment Sheet

Tasha Swearingen

Tasha is a homeschooling mom to 5 and has been homeschooling for 14 years. Currently, her children's ages span from toddler to young adult. Tasha has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Social Sciences from Florida State University and is working on her MBA through SNHU/Berklee School of Music.