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CLEAN, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Universitites Space Research Association


K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Physics, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Experiment
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheet

Regional Focus




Amazing Expanding Ice

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  • This experiment demonstrates that as water changes from a liquid to a solid, its density decreases by comparing the level of water in a cup before and after freezing.
  • In addition to the experiment, students will engage in a class discussion that gauges prior knowledge, analyze the experiment's results, and record their findings in a journal.
Teaching Tips


  • This experiment is relatively easy to administer.
  • This experiment does not involve any dangerous chemicals.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should already know the states of matter, as well as the terms density and volume.
  • Teachers should click the "Jump to this Activity" button in the upper right-hand corner to access the experiment's instructions.


  • The Ice Investigator Journal is better suited for older students to use independently. Younger students can use it with the help of an adult, sentence stems, or dictation.
  • This experiment pairs well with a lesson on sea ice cover, what's happening to it globally, and why it matters.
  • Teachers can use this experiment as a conceptual introduction to the molecular structures of different states of matter.
  • This experiment can supplement a classroom discussion about the state change that occurs when water boils.
  • This experiment can enhance a classroom discussion on common state changes that happen in nature.
Scientist Notes

This resource is from the CLEAN collection. “The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness.”


This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Mathematics
    • Measurement & Data (K-5)
      • K.MD.A.2 Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has "more of"/"less of" the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.
      • 3.MD.A.2 Measure and estimate liquid volumes and masses of objects using standard units of grams (g), kilograms (kg), and liters (l). Add, subtract, multiply, or divide to solve one-step word problems involving masses or volumes that are given in the same units, e.g., by using drawings (such as a beaker with a measurement scale) to represent the problem.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 2-ESS2-3. Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • 5-PS1-2. Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
      • 5-PS1-3. Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
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