Dry ice squealing and vibrating

Press on a piece of dry ice with a spoon to make squealing noises. A dry ice nugget vibrates on a spoon.
Science content
Chemistry: States of Matter, Properties of Materials (K-7)
Physics: Light and Sound (1)
Lessons activity is in
  • dry ice and gloves to handle
  • aluminium pie plate
  • metal spoon
  • coins

1. Place a nugget of dry ice in an empty aluminum pie pan and press on it with a metal spoon. You should hear squealing or squeaking sounds as the spoon and pan vibrates. This is caused by heat from the spoon and pan warming the carbon dioxide and changing it from solid to gas (sublimation), which then pushes the ice away from the spoon and pan, causing them to vibrate.

2. A nugget of dry ice vibrates on a spoon as it sublimates and the gas escapes under it. Once the dry ice has cooled the spoon down, the vibration stops, and water vapour in the air turns to ice crystals on the cool spoon.

3. Press side of coins into dry ice. The coins flip back and forth. The warm coins heat the dry ice and turn it to gas. The gas escapes in the enclosed space pushing the coin back and forth.

Grades taught
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5