Backyard Zamboni

My son Jack and I took some time out from playing with the educational toys he received for Christmas and went to a hockey game over the holidays. Like most 7 year olds, his favorite part is when the Zamboni comes out to clean the ice. We had seen this a thousand times so I was stymied when Jack said, “Why is there smoke coming out of the back?” It’s steam I told Jack, they use hot water because it freezes faster. I could see the wheels turning now and knew I was getting in over my head. “But ice is cold, shouldn’t they use cold water, Dad”. Well, there was only one period to go and a thousand questions, most of which I didn’t have the answers to, so I told Jack that when we got home we would do our own science experiment to see whether hot or cold water froze faster.

To get the most out of this I thought we should treat it as a science project. I looked through some of the science toys Jack had and found a science kit that showed how to do some experiments. Jack and I made a plan and a list of all the things we’d need. We also searched the internet to see if there were any educational toys that might help us. We didn’t find any educational toys, but we did find some very interesting facts.

It turns out there are at least 3 physical processes that would explain why hot water freezes faster. First, hot water contains less dissolved air, this is why fish can die in very warm water, a lack of oxygen. Liquids conduct heat much better than gas so hot water would cool much more rapidly. Secondly, in a pool of warm water, the water at the surface would be hotter than the water below, hot water rises. This would create a larger temperature difference with the air and cool the water faster. Third, the warm water would initially melt the ice on the ground, forming a better bond that would cool the water faster. This also prevents layers of ice from chipping away.

So we filled up a jug with hot tap water and a second jug with cold water. We took 2 plastic cups and a short 2×4 outside. We filled each cup half full, the red one with hot water and the blue one with cold water and set them on the walk. Then we found a patch of ice on the driveway, laid the 2×4 in the center, and poured hot water on one side and cold water on the other side. It was 18 F so we went in to warm up.

We came back out an hour later. The 2 cups were mostly water. The red one had some ice above the water line and the blue one had some ice on the outer edge of the water surface. 
On the driveway, both sides of the 2×4 had turned to ice. When we touched the ice we could see our fingerprint on the cold water side. The hot water side was frozen solid. 
We weren’t sure what we just proved but we rushed back inside, wrote down our observations, drew a few pictures and had some hot chocolate before bedtime. I knew Jack was going to be excited when he explained his science experiment to his class on Monday.

So next time you see that steam rising behind the Zamboni you’ll know why. As for my backyard ice rink, if I can only wrap the garden hose around the barbeque.

Ted Moryto is an engineer, father and owner of Brain Waves Educational Toys Canada []

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Modern Backyard Ideas

Have you ever wondered why, during an evening walk in the neighborhood, what usually captures ones attention is a home adorned with perfect lighting? This is because even without the sunlight, you can still appreciate the overall look of the house. Those that are embellished with perfectly designed outdoor landscape lighting can provide a calm and cozy atmosphere of a modern backyard that many homeowners strive to have and many neighbors envy to no end. Having exterior outdoor lighting truly enhances the curb appeal of your garden or patio.

When considering exterior lights outside the house, safety and security are the usual prime concerns. Although these things are necessary and must be addressed properly, they can both be integrated into a landscaping plan, which has an aesthetic side as well. They are usually installed along the driveways and walkways but they can also be used to give enough light to trees, stonewalls, staircases, fences and various garden accessories. Lighting the steps and walkways will make your property safer to stroll and will increase the protection of your home as it eliminates gloomy areas that could hide trespassers that like to lurk in the dark spots.

After considering the safety of your place, make sure to emphasize the special elements of your landscape design in your outdoor landscape lights plan. To better give you ideas on how you would want your illumination arrangement to work, you can drive around upscale neighborhoods and notice how they were able to incorporate lighting into their outdoor masterpieces. Focus on how each light is directed to a specific feature and its attempt to capture significant design elements.

You may utilize varying types of lighting fixtures such as path lights, spotlights, deck lights and floodlights to work with your plan. The spots and floods, when directed to several different ways, may give unique lighting effects. Such that a spotlight can be used to provide lighting from the house by directing to a specimen tree, or you can change the effect by positioning the light at the ground level. Depending on where you use each light fixture, you can achieve several special effects as well.

Installing landscape lighting for outdoors is not difficult at all, and usually you can buy your lighting fixtures with a kit that has everything inside that allows you to do the installation on your own without needing the help of a professional electrician.

This is why whether you are installing a new design into your home or revising your present landscape architecture and design, be sure to incorporate outdoor landscape lighting to your investment so you not only boost the curb appeal of your home but also make it more secure, safe and pleasant to be in.

In conclusion, using outdoor deck lighting [] for your patio or backyard are perfect when you are thinking of renovating your home or enhancing the ambient of your home exterior. Having the proper outdoor lights [] can easily bring your properly to levels that your neighbors can only dream about.

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