Morse Code of Weather: 50th episode celebration with two fun, winter-themed science experiments

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 9:39 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Meteorologist Jacob Morse’s Morse Code of Weather segment on First News at Four each Wednesday has reached 50 episodes!

To celebrate, Jody, Kevin and Jacob did some fun, winter-themed science experiments! The first one is called “Fishing for Ice.”

Materials Needed: Salt, string, scissors, a glass of water and ice cubes

Instructions: Fill a glass mostly full with cold water and add an ice cube. Sprinkle some salt onto the top of the ice cube, then place one end of the string on the ice cube and add some more salt on top. Be careful not to be too aggressive when pouring the salt onto the ice cube or else it will spin and flip around in the water. Press down the string a bit onto the top of the ice cube to ensure that it will adhere. Wait a full minute or two for the string to freeze to the ice cube, then slowly lift the string and the ice cube should stick and come along with it!

Science: When you add salt to the ice cube, it lowers the melting point of the ice. This is because salt molecules block water molecules from packing together when the temperature is lowered, preventing them from becoming ice. It’s the same principle as to why road salt is used to melt snow on our roadways. The salt makes the ice melt even when the temperature is below water’s normal freezing point of 32 degrees. The water that forms from the melting of the ice cube in our glass dilutes the water and salt solution, which then allows the freezing point to go back up. This allows the water to refreeze over the string and then we can pick the ice cube up by the string.

Fishing for Ice
Fishing for Ice(KFYR)

The second experiment is called “Salt Snowflakes.”

Materials Needed: Cardstock paper or snowflake painting template printouts, water, food coloring, bowl, salt, pipette and glue

Instructions: Draw a snowflake or print out one of the templates, then outline your snowflake with glue. Generously pour salt on the glue and shake the excess salt off into a bowl. Let it dry for a little bit, then mix water and food coloring into a different bowl and use the pipette to slowly put the food coloring-water mixture onto the salt. Watch as the salt absorbs the liquid and your snowflake becomes colorful!

Science: Salt is great for absorbing and it absorbs water because both NaCl (salt) and H2O (water) molecules are polar. This means they have positive and negative charges on opposite sides. And not only does the salt absorb the liquid water, but also the water vapor in the air making it hygroscopic. A hygroscopic substance is one that absorbs water from the environment. Tiny sea salt particles in the atmosphere can act as cloud condensation nuclei, which water vapor molecules use to condense on at the beginning stages of a cloud. Additionally, this experiment reminds us that snowflakes have six sides, but there are many different types of snowflakes depending on the cloud temperature at which they form at. The most pristine snowflakes are called “dendrites.”

Salt snowflake
Salt snowflake(KFYR)
Cloud Condensation Nuclei
Cloud Condensation Nuclei(KFYR)
Types of Snowflakes
Types of Snowflakes(KFYR)