It's only a matter of time until kids get B-O-R-E-D with their winter break.

Freezing a few bubbles or preserving snowflakes will cure that.

Grayslake scientist and National Louis University associate professor Vito Dipinto is ready with imaginative science tricks tailored for December's chill.

Dipinto, an organic chemist who now teaches college students how to become science teachers, says winter "offers many opportunities for kids to have fun exploring the world of science." He offers these ideas:

Frozen bubbles

Materials needed: Dawn dishwashing detergent (no substitutes), water, bubble wand, a day that is 15 degrees (or less) outside and has a slight wind

• Combine one part Dawn dishwashing detergent and three parts water. Mix gently to create bubble mixture.

• Use a bubble wand to blow bubbles into the air and watch them freeze.

• Let the bubble touch your child's nose and listen for a "pling" when it breaks.

Volcano in the snow

Materials needed: 2 spoonfuls baking soda, 1 spoonful liquid soap, red food coloring, 30 ml vinegar, water bottle, snow

• Add all ingredients, except the vinegar, to a water bottle.

• Place the water bottle in a mound of snow and cover the bottle with snow in order for it to look like a volcano, leaving the mouth of the bottle open.

• Add the vinegar and watch the eruption!

Maple syrup candy

Materials needed: pure maple syrup and candy thermometer OR one-half cup packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons butter, fresh snow

• If using maple syrup: Have an adult bring the syrup to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until a candy thermometer reads 235 F (112 C).

• If using sugar and butter: Prepare sugar and butter mixture by heating butter and sugar together, stirring well.

• Locate some freshly fallen, clean snow and pour either the maple syrup or butter-sugar mixture onto it. Wait three to five seconds for it to cool and it will harden like maple taffy. Roll it up and enjoy.

Snowflake fossils

Materials needed: glass laboratory slides with cover slips, Krylon spray adhesive (available at art supply stores) OR super glue (the thin kind, not the gel), dark cloth or cardboard, and tiny paintbrush, outdoor temperature of 23 F or below

• Cool the glass laboratory slides and their cover slips outdoors (sheltered from the snow) and allow them to reach the outdoor temperature.

• Use a dark cloth or cardboard to "catch" snowflakes, and when you see a pretty one, use a tiny artist's paintbrush to transfer it to a glass slide. Cover it with the spray fixative or a generous drop of super glue.

• Allow it to dry outdoors in the cold, protected from snow, for up to a week.

• Once it's dry, you can bring your fossil inside; it will last indefinitely. You can photograph it and share with friends.

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