The chill of this very cold Kentucky morning reminds us that winter is here to stay for a while, but I find myself asking, “what is cold, anyway?”, and what does our brain have to do with it?
Well, cold is a relative term. We feel “cold” or “hot” based on what our body is used to feeling; and in turn, what our brain interprets as comfortable (and uncomfortable) temperature. For example, if we spent a week in the tropics, then traveled to a cooler climate of 50 degrees, we’d feel cold… but on a day like today; 50 degrees would feel like a warm relief.
While you’re home today, try beating the winter chill with this cool activity that demonstrates the relativity of water temperature. You’ll need three bowls you can fill with water, and a volunteer.
First, fill each bowl; the first with warm water, the second with lukewarm water, and the third with cold water. Then, place them on a table with the lukewarm water in the center.
Place one hand in the warm water and the second in the cold water and hold them for 30 seconds. Next, place both hands in the lukewarm water at the same time.
What do you feel? This strange sensation is your brain trying to figure out what’s up – one hand will feel cold, and the other will feel warm!
Today is a great day to explore with states of matter, and try another favorite of mine – frozen bubbles (instructions at this link: http://www.stevespangler.com/experiment-of-the-week/cold-weather-science-frozen-bubbles/).
Now bundle up, stay safe, and have some science fun!
*Image courtesy of highlightskids.com
If you and your family find this experiment fun, check out our upcoming education programming, and stay tuned for Spring Break and Summer Camp information.
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