Any liquid is made up of a large number of
molecules. These molecules attract each other, so
you can think of them as a collection of sticky
particles. When the temperature is low, the
particles don’t move around as much, and since
they are sticky they get trapped in a single
arrangement and don’t move at all. This is the
transition from liquid to solid. So, when water
molecules in liquid water become cold enough, the
attractive bonds between the molecules become
strong enough to lock the molecules into a solid
To melt an ice cube, you reverse this process.
By adding heat energy, you force the water
molecules in ice to become unstuck, allowing them
to move around as a liquid again. The time it
takes to melt the ice depends on how quickly you
can add heat. The best way to determine this
time is to measure it yourself.
Two big things that affect how quickly you can add
heat are the surrounding temperature, and the
surface area of the ice. You can test both of
these things to see which has a greater effect on
melting! You will need a watch or stopwatch to
keep the time, ice cubes, and a bowl for water.
To test the impact of temperature, record how
long an ice cube takes to melt in hot, warm, and
cold water (the easiest way to do this is with
water from the sink, or you could boil water to
make it really hot). To test the impact of
surface area, compare how long it takes for a
whole ice cube to melt in water with the time it
takes for a crushed ice cube to melt in water.
A lot of small pieces of ice will have much more
surface area than one big piece of ice. Can you
guess which will melt faster?
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