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Archive / December, 2014

Groovy Ice Sculptures

Elsa, the ice princess of the Disney movie, Frozen, creates a fantastically spectacular ice castle with a grand staircase and chandelier ice sculpture.  There is magic in making ice sculptures, but it’s not as easy as the magic at Elsa’s hands.  In the real world, ice sculptors use their groovy imagination and tools to create a magical experience with ice.

Groovy Ice Sculptures

Ice sculptures come in many shapes, sizes and colors.  Some ice sculptures are as big as a hotel or as small as a butterfly; as tall as 10 meters and as small as 5 centimeters.  They can be used as a focal point at an event, a decoration for your dessert bowl or created for a total ICE winter wonderland. Ice sculptures can range in weight from 1-23,00 kilograms or more, depending on the design.  The average weight of a two-block ice sculpture is nearly 180 kilograms. And, colored lighting can add to the beauty of the sculptured design.

Ice Sculpting Tools

Ice sculptures are made in different ways. Some are carved with machines, some are molded, and others are hand-carved.

Ice sculpturing tools

  • Chisels—a traditional tool used by many professional ice sculptors.  The chisel handle is made of decorative wood and the blade of razor sharp steel. The chisel helps the sculptor with the fine details of the designed shape.
  • Chainsaw—most commonly associated with ice sculpting, the chainsaw allows a sculptor to quickly shape a block of ice.
  • Iron—some sculptors use an iron to warm the ice design to create a smooth sleek look.

Using these tools can be dangerous; however, most dangerous is working for long periods in the cold temperatures required to maintain a temperature ideal for ice carving.  An ideal temperature for ice sculpting is 15-25 degrees Celsius.

Build Your Own Ice Sculpture

Build your own ice sculpture

This easy activity presents less danger than sculpting ice blocks with the tools mentioned above.

Add a dash of sand to an assortment of balloons and then fill them with water.  The sand acts as freezing nuclei for the water in the balloon.  Freeze the water balloons outside.  Once frozen, peel the balloons off the ice.  STEMists will find each balloon has an individual pattern created by trapped air bubbles during the freezing process.  STEMists can add food coloring to the water before freezing to enhance their ice sculptures.

Groovy Ice Sculpture Festivals

Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China is held each year in honor of the first Ice lanterns that were a winter-time tradition in northeast China. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), the local peasants and fishermen often made and used ice lanterns as jack-lights during the winter months.

Quebec Winter Carnival

Quebec Winter Carnival

Quebec Winter Carnival, held annually since 1955, hosts winter activities for all ages including sleigh rides, skating, snow sculptures and more.  The world’s largest winter carnival is held January 30 to February 15.

World Ice Art Championships

World Ice Art Championships ice block

World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska, is an annual springtime celebration that showcases an ice sculpting competition. The championships take place in a permanent Ice Park where the ice for the competition is harvested from the O’Grady Pond, right in the Ice Park. Competitors of all ages can enter a single-block or multi-block sculpture, and spectators can enjoy ice skating, learning how to sculpt ice, walking through a maze and much more.

Whether your STEMists have seen the fifth-highest grossing film in box office history, Frozen, or not, the beauty of ice is often in the design engineered by the imagination and creative mind.  Check out the latest ice-themed Groovy Lab in a Box “What’s The Matter?” for design challenges that encourage creative and critical thinking in your STEMists.

Groovy Ice Hotels Inspire Backyard Igloos


Groovy Ice HotelsDo your STEMists like to build snow forts and igloos?

The engineering design of a backyard igloo can be challenging, but not as challenging as creating a hotel made completely of ice.  There are many ice hotels throughout the world.

Check out these three groovy ice hotels that will surely have your STEMists planning upgrades for their next backyard igloo.

Hotel de Glace—near Quebec City, Canada

Hotel de Glace

This groovy wonderland is only open during the winter season, and the Hotel de Glace is rebuilt with ice and snow every winter season.  Artistically designed snow suites are decorated with evergreen ice sculptures, and ready to accommodate both couples and families for a cool unique evening.  Have you ever considered sleeping on a bed of ice?  Don’t worry – warm blankets of fur and arctic sleeping bags provide warmth for a restful sleep!

Adults will enjoy the ice bar where they can make their own ice glass to hold a warming cocktail and dance beneath spectacular ice chandeliers.  And, young STEMists will make memories that last a lifetime at the Old-Time Sugar Shack where they make their own maple syrup and snow popsicles.

The Hotel de Glace is open for day visitors or overnight guests through March 28.

Snowhotel— Kirkenes, Norway

Snowhotel Kirkenes Norway

This snow hotel works on the basis that snow makes for good insulation.  The Norwegian hotel beauty will amaze everyone in the family.  Kirkenes Snowhotel describes every room as a small treasure.  Each room follows a different Arctic cultural theme.  Five meters in diameter, the rooms offer comfortable accommodation with beds that appear to be made of ice, but are actually ice block frames that hold a thermal insulated mattress.  Guest bedding is a sleeping bag graded for -35 degrees Celsius.

Snowhotel relies on snow as an insulator, ensuring that even when it’s minus 30 degrees Celsius outside, inside the hotel will remain at minus 4 degrees Celsius.   Snow and ice sculptures, created by artists from the specialist ice-sculpting Chinese city of Harbin, are lighted for artistic effect to decorate the magnificent hotel.  Ice sculpture designs are different each year.

Activities are plenty at Snowhotel.  From a Red King Crab Fishing excursion, a Husky Dog sledding trip to a hunt to see the natural magical phenomenon of the Northern Lights, Snowhotel will have plenty to keep everyone in your groovy group entertained. Don’t forget to pet the resident reindeer!

Hotel of Ice—Balea Lac, Romania

Hotel of Ice—Balea Lac, Romania

The ultimate in winter escapes, the Hotel of Ice in Romania is built on top of a frozen glacial lake.  Guests can choose from a sub-zero hotel room or a private igloo nearby.

Activities are abundant at the Hotel’s Winter Park.  Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, ice bowling and good old-fashioned snowball fights are among the festivities available at the Hotel park.

An alternative to ice hotels

Gaylord Hotels Ice Slide

If staying at an ice hotel doesn’t sound appealing, perhaps a visit to the ICE exhibit at  one of the four Gaylord Hotels may be more to your liking:

Each of the Gaylord Hotels celebrates with a new Christmas theme each year.  The ICE exhibit is a display of colorful ice sculptures with ice slides, snow tubing and ice skating to help STEMists get in the spirit of grooviness.

Check out the “What’s the Matter?” single box which is all about states of matter and ice!  Or start your Groovy Lab in a Box subscription today!

Groovy Holiday Bundles Now Available


Are you looking for the perfect gift for the STEMists in your life? Look no further than Groovy Lab in a Box’s new Groovy Holiday Bundles!

Groovy Holiday Bundles

With Groovy Holiday Bundles, you will get a single box delivered to you in time for the holidays, and the grooviness continues in 2015 with one of Groovy Lab in a Box’s subscription plans. Non-recurring prepaid plans are available in 3-, 6- and 12-month plans, and are billed at the time of order. At the end of the subscription period, these plans do not renew.

Even groovier, each plan is bundled with a unique single box at 20% off!

This is a groovy way to give your STEMist the fun of learning science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) well beyond the holiday season. In fact, both Popular Mechanics and Mothering Magazine have included Groovy Lab in a Box in their 2014 holiday gift guides – so you know it’s a groovy gift for kids! Save time and money this holiday season with Groovy Lab in a Box!

How Groovy Lab in a Box Goes Green

Do you encourage your STEMists to live a “greener” lifestyle?

Whether you are a parent who homeschools your children or a teacher with a classroom of STEMists, teaching children to be eco-friendly and environmentally aware can build lifelong habits that may protect the future of our planet. Groovy Lab in a Box has a mission to be environmentally conscious when planning the supplies and producing the packaging for its monthly-themed science kit. In fact, we try to include green activities to instill an eco-friendly mindset among our STEMists.

How Groovy Lab in a Box Goes Green

“We are always looking for ways to decrease our carbon footprint, directly or indirectly, through our packaging and supplies for our monthly themes,” said Katy McCracken, product development specialist for Groovy Lab in a Box.

McCracken says she is a “recyclaholic” when it comes to using materials of any kind.  “I am so pleased that Team Groovy Lab in a Box is continuously working to create a product that is recyclable, reusable or compostable,” says McCracken.  “For example, STEMists will notice a change in the size of their lab notebook—a measure to reduce waste and cut down on the weight of the product, ultimately affecting our carbon footprint.”

A Groovy Green Box

STEMists can count on the Team Groovy Lab in a Box to have considered the environment with each box they receive.  Many STEMists don’t realize that there is more to the friendly, retro Groovy Lab in a Box packaging than meets the eye. First, our lab notebooks are 100% recyclable and biodegradable because they are printed with inks that use vegetable oil as its base.

Additionally, our boxes are made with 100% recycled content with a varying percentage of post-industrial and post-consumer waste.  Our boxes don’t stop there—Groovy boxes are 100% recyclable, biodegradable and compostable because they are printed with water-based inks. These inks are non-toxic, lead-free and do not contain any heavy metals.

Going Green With Our Supplies

Keep on Turning

“Keep on Turning” groovy box

Many of the supplies included in our science kits are also eco-friendly. For example, the Keep on Turning themed box includes sugar cane bowls.  Intended as a supply for a water wheel activity, the bowls are made from 100% renewable and reclaimed resources. Sugarcane fiber products are BPI-certified compostable and a strong alternative to traditional plastic or polystyrene.

Groovy Eco-Activities

Porch Swing Platform Bird Feeder

“For The Birds” Porch Swing Bird Feeder

In addition to our supplies, we teach about the environment through our blog posts and monthly investigations. In our Groovy and Simple Water Experiments for STEMists blog post, Team Groovy included a Give a Hoot. Don’t Pollute! section presenting STEMists with a challenging experiment on how to clean polluted water.  And, in the For the Birds groovy box, STEMists are presented with an Engineering Design Challenge to design and build a bird feeder that meets the survival needs of local birds using upcycled materials.  The activity prompts STEMists to investigate types of birds in their local area, the bird’s drinking and feeding habits, and what types of bird feeder structures best suit them.

Be sure to check out our cool, retro style Groovy Lab in a Box for the STEMists in your life!  Groovy Lab in a Box contains hours of exciting and fun scientific challenges, many including information and challenges that teach them to be responsible for the planet we live on—the perfect gift for any STEMist!

Cyber Monday Sale For Groovy Lab in a Box


Cyber Monday 2014Are you looking for the perfect holiday gift for children, ages 8 and older? Consider Groovy Lab in a Box!

Groovy Lab in a Box is a monthly STEM kit that encourages critical thinking, problem solving and  fun! Groovy Lab in a Box incorporates STEM investigations and an Engineering Design Challenge – all designed around the Next Generation Science Standards. Each box has a retro-themed lab notebook and access to the Beyond…in a Box web portal for additional learning.

In fact, Popular Mechanics magazine recently included Groovy Lab in a Box in its 100% Wholesome Holiday Gift Guide – a compilation of some of the best toys that promote scientific inquiry and engineering.

Take advantage of Groovy Lab in a Box’s Cyber Monday sale and check it out for yourself! On December 1 only, you can get 35% off your first month’s subscription. Just use code CYBERSTEMIST at check out. Hurry, this is a one-day sale!

Here’s the link to get started: www.groovylabinabox.com/join-now

GROOVY NOTE: The discount is ONLY for monthly subscriptions (Not valid on 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions, or single box orders).


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