Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart


Family STEAM Challenge: Melting Snowmen

V1 Staff

Do you have leftover packing peanuts from all of those holiday gifts you ordered? Playing outside in the snow is fantastic, but what is there to do once that winter chill hits and you want to stay cozy and warm in house? Let’s decorate – and melt – a snowman ...

The topic:

Exploring and observing the science behind the power of water or acetone and the future of biodegradable packing.

The Mission:

Use your scientific and detective skills to figure out why the liquid melts the packing peanuts and which variation works best to dissolve them. 

The Challenge:

How many packing peanuts can you dissolve into one small cup?

Materials you could use (but are not limited to):

Variation 1:

  • Biodegradable packing peanuts              
  • Water 
  • Markers
  • Small bowl or cup

Variation 2:

  • Normal packing peanuts
  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Markers
  • Small bowl or cup

Melting your snowman:

This challenge is very open-ended as it can be applied whenever and wherever the materials are available. To start this experiment, you must first draw and decorate your snowman. Use the markers and draw on a face, nose, hat, and buttons. You can also add extra decorations or accessories and see if they melt in the liquid, too.

Next, place your snowman into whichever liquid you are using for your experiment. (If you are using the acetone, be sure an adult is supervising and you may want to wear gloves and eye protection). Now watch your snowman melt! Time how long it takes him to disappear. Does the water or the acetone work better?

Tip: If you use your finger and just get a small amount of water on the packing peanut, it will stick to other peanuts and you can create a structure with it. Then you can dissolve that!

Questions to Mull Over:

• If you color the whole peanut, will the liquid dissolve the color or will the liquid change color?

• Which works best?

• Is there a way that the world could use this to be more sustainable with packaging?

• What is the texture of the melted peanut?

• Is there anything else that dissolves in either of these liquids?

• Is there any other liquid that dissolves the peanuts?

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

Chippewa Valley Technical College

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.