Tuesday, April 12, 2016

We went to visit Death Valley earlier this year, and Smarty found salt flats of Badwater Basin very intriguing. This is why we decided to explore salt flats formation and make our own salt flats at home:
Earth Science for Kids: Salt Flats Formation

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Supplies Needed

1. Salt
2. Hot water
3. Measurement cups and spoons
4. Borax (optional). We included it, because Death Valley salt flats contain quite a bit of Borax.
5. Shallow bowls or aluminum foil disposable tin pans

"Death Valley" Salt Flat

We used 1 cup of hot water, half cup of salt, 2 TBS of Borax, and 2 TBS of soil to make our Death Valley salt flat. It was interesting to see how our salt flat started to form once water began evaporating...

"The Dead Sea" Salt Flat

Since we are "virtually" visiting Israel for Passover, we also wanted to make more muddy mixture to represent the Dead Sea. I was lucky enough to visit the Dead Sea in 1999 and even swim in it - it's certainly a very surreal experience to be floating on water without really trying to. While shores of the Dead Sea do have salt deposits, some areas are more known for its mineral mud, and this is what we were trying to reproduce here with a mixture of salt, water, and soil. It was not exactly how I expected it to dry out, but it was interesting to compare the results with Death Valley salt flat that had more salt and less mud..

Research: Will the Dead Sea Vanish?

Smarty was interested in comparing Death Valley desert and the Dead Sea. She wanted to know if the Dead Sea, the lowest continental point on Earth, will eventually become a salt flat as well. We did some online research on this subject. The answer is actually quite complicated. Yes, humans contributed heavily to the decline in levels of the Dead Sea over the past 50 years or so, and the region is rapidly approaching ecological catastrophe with gigantic sinkholes swallowing land around the shores. However, studies show that this salty lake experienced dramatic changes in size and the current prediction is that its level will stabilize again, about 100 to 150 meters down from the current levels. 

Your Turn

Do you discuss local and global ecological issues with your kids?

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Ticia said...

We talk a lot about local ecological issues since we've been in a drought most of the kids' lives, and how much it has changed in the past year with all the rain we've gotten.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Great experiment! We just drove through the very pretty when they have water in them Utah Salt flats! They are too-bright-white in the summer when they are all dried out.