All About Ice

An Ice Magic Show


In this 20-minute activity, cool magician I.C. Melton (the facilitator) demonstrates the amazing State Change Trick for children ages 8 to 10. Based on what they have observed in I.C.'s performance, the children brainstorm what it really takes to make a state change happen!

What's the Point?

  • Materials can exist in different states, including solid, liquid, and gas.
  • Water and other substances can be changed from one state to another by heating or cooling.


For each child:

For the group:

  • A container such as a box large enough to conceal two containers, one each of ice and water
  • 2 identical clear containers, (1 filled with ice, 1 filled with water)
  • Magician supplies, like a small cloth to cover the bowls, a wand, cape, hat, etc. (optional)

For the facilitator:


  • Prepare the bowls of ice and water in advance and conceal them from the children.
  • For older children you may choose not to do the magic show and, instead, to use the bowls of ice and water to prompt a discussion about state changes.


  1. Introduce State Change Trick magic act. Share with the children that you, the magnificent I.C. Melton, will magically transform a substance from one phase to another.The tone of the magic show should be exaggerated and cheesy. You may use the following script or create your own.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, by placing the bowl of ice that you see here into this magic box, I will transform it from one phase to another. You must be very still and quiet for this to work correctly, though. Are you ready? Here goes!"

    After setting it inside the box, invite the participants to recite the magic words:"State-ooo Change-ooo!"

    Remove the bowl of water from the box. "Voila! Amazing! The ice changed states from solid ice to liquid water! And now an even more amazing transformation!"

    Place the bowl of water back in the box and invite the participants to recite the magic words:"State-ooo Change-ooo!"

    Remove the bowl of ice again. "Unbelievable!! The water changed back from liquid water to solid ice! A truly astounding transformation!"
  2. After the anticipated moans and groans, confess that - yes - you tricked them. Then ask:
    • Is a transformation from solid ice to liquid water, and back again, actually possible? Yes, of course it is, it happens all the time!
    • What are the three states of water — or the three conditions in which water can be found? The solid — ice, the liquid — water, and the gas — water vapor.
    • Are ice and water made of the same "stuff?" Yes. Ice and water (and water vapor) all have the same chemical composition — they are made of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O).
    • What about water vapor — is it the same "stuff?" Yes.
    • Where do we find examples of ice, water, and water vapor naturally on Earth? Ice falls as snow and is found in glaciers and ice sheets at the Earth's cold poles. Water is in the oceans and rivers and comes out of our water taps. Water vapor is in our atmosphere, but we see it everyday as steam when we boil water or take a hot shower or bath. Water vapor can condense in the atmosphere as clouds. When the water vapor in clouds cools, it can condense into a liquid and fall as rain or freeze into a solid and fall as snow or ice crystals. Earth is unique in that all three states of water exist on our planet's surface!
    • What would it take to actually make the ice in the bowl change states from a solid to a liquid? The only things it would take are time and temperatures warmer than freezing.
    • What would it take to make the water in the bowl change states from a liquid to a gas? The water will need to be heated (to boiling).
    • If the bowl with the water was left out for several days, what would happen to the water? It would "go away" — evaporate. The liquid water would turn into a different state. It would become water vapor, a gas. Our atmosphere contains water vapor; clouds are formed by the condensation of water vapor.
    • Do they think that it is possible for ice to change straight to water vapor? Yes! This is called "sublimation." Ice in the polar regions sometimes sublimates, turns right from solid to gas, without melting.
    • Ask them if they think that the state change from solid to liquid to gas is almost as amazing as magic!
  3. Have the children complete the table for "An Ice Magic Show" in their Ice Investigator Journals.


If the children have started to construct a snow mobile, invite them to record any answers they discovered on the appropriate pieces.

  • The water you drink is a solid / liquid / gas. (circle one)
  • When water freezes it turns into__________, which is a solid / liquid / gas. (circle one)
  • When water is heated it boils and turns into __________ (or water vapor), which is a solid / liquid / gas. (circle one)
  • The ice you put in a drink is a solid / liquid / gas. (circle one)
  • Water vapor is a solid / liquid / gas. (circle one)
  • When water evaporates it changes from a liquid to a solid / liquid / gas. (circle one)
  • When water vapor in our atmosphere gets a little cold, it condenses and falls as __________.
  • When water vapor in our atmosphere gets very, very cold it turns into ________ flakes.

Have them annotate any new questions they have or interesting things they learned on the appropriate shapes of either the raindrop, cloud, or snowflake.