Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Space: Exploring a Comet

After exploring how meteorites make craters we wanted to know what other objects are flying around space.   Another object that is out in space is a comet.   We thought it would be fun to build our own comet and watch how it deteriorates over time.   More information about this activity can be found here.

We started by putting the ingredients for our comet together:
1.  First we crushed some dry ice while wrapped up in a bag.   We had a lot of fun trying to crush the ice as the bag filled with gas as were breaking it up.

2.  We poured 2 cups of water into a bowl lined with a trash bag.  Then added 2 spoonfuls of sand. Finally a spoonful of ammonia, and a spoonful of corn syrup and mixed it all together.

3.  Then it got fun.   We carefully poured in about 2 cups of crushed dry ice and mixed it up for about a minute - or until we felt it started to freeze.   Our counter top was covered in "mist".

4.  We (mommy) then quickly closed up the bag and formed a ball inside the bag with the dry ice and water mixture.  After about a minute we opened the bag and had a comet formed.

5.  We took the comet out and placed it on a plate and watched what happened over a few hours.  In a short time it stopped sublimating but we still had a frozen mass.   That slowly melted over time until all we had left were the water and the sand.

This was a great experiment to understand what goes into a comet.  We had the sand, ammonia, corn syrup (organic matter), water and dry ice.   We learned about how the comet will have gases from sublimation that can come out of the comet and how over time the comet will "melt" and become its individual pieces.


  • 2 cups of crushed dry ice
  • 2 plastic bags
  • plastic bowl
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 spoonfuls of sand
  • 1 spoonful of ammonia
  • 1 spoonful of dark corn syrup (organic material)
  • plastic plate


  1. Place the dry ice in a garbage bag and hit it to crush into very small pieces.
  2. Line a plastic bowl with a plastic bag.
  3. Add the water, corn syrup, ammonia and sand.  Mix together.
  4. Carefully add the 2 cups of dry ice and mix slightly until starting to freeze.
  5. Pick the bag up and form the comet ball.  Hold the bag to keep the shape for about a minute.
  6. Open the bag and place the comet on a plastic plate.
  7. Over the next few hours watch what happens to the comet.


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