Home Experiment: Halloween Slime

You will need

  • Bowl
  • Measuring cup
  • Spoon
  • 1 cup of cornflour
  • ½ cup of water
  • Food colouring (you can choose which colour)
  • Plastic container with lid for storage

What to do

  1. Measure out 1 cup of cornflour and place it in a bowl.
  2. Measure out ½ cup of water.
  3. Slowly add some of the water to the cornflour and mix with your hands.
  4. Then add some more water and keep mixing with your hands.
  5. Continue adding water and mixing until your slime has the right consistency.
  6. If gets is too runny you can add some more cornflour.
  7. Add about 10 drops of food colouring until your slime and mix it.
  8. You can store your slime in a plastic container with a lid. Your slime might still dry out a bit over time. If this happens you can just add some more water.

Background

Mixing cornflour and water gives you a slime that behaves very peculiar. If you touch it very lightly it feels liquid like water. If you hit it very hard and fast it feels solid like a rubber ball. The slime reacts differently depending on the force that acts on it. The bigger the force, the harder the slime. The smaller the force, the more liquid the slime behaves. These kind of liquids are called “non-Newtonian”.

You can watch the experiment as a video here:

Air Pressure Experiments

You will need:

1st experiment:

  • Glass bottle
  • Balloon

2nd experiment:

  • One piece of card board
  • Glass
  • Water

What to do:

1st experiment:

  1. Stretch the opening of the balloon over the rim of the bottle’s mouth. Make sure that the body of the balloon is inside the bottle.
  2. Try to blow up the balloon.
  3. The air in the bottle has nowhere to go and pushes on the balloon. This increases the pressure in the bottle when you try to blow up the balloon and you will not be able to blow it up.

2nd experiment:

  1. Pour water into the glass until it reaches the rim of the glass.
  2. Place the piece of card board on the glass. Hold it down so the card board covers the rim all the way around.
  3. Still holding the card board, move above a sink.
  4. Turn the glass upside down while still holding the card board. Then let go of the card board.
  5. Air pressure forces the card upwards, against the glass. The pressure is strong enough to stop the weight of the water pushing the card away.

You can watch a video for this experiment here:

Home Experiment: Fire Extinguisher

You will need

  • Tea light
  • Tea spoon
  • Small bowl
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Match to light the candle

What to do

  1. Place the tea light in the middle of the bowl.
  2. Arrange the baking soda in the bowl around the tea light using the tea spoon.
  3.  Light the tea light.
  4. Slowly add vinegar to the baking soda around the tea light. Be careful not to put the vinegar directly into the flame.
  5. Observe what happens to the candle.

Background

When vinegar reacts with baking soda, the gas carbon dioxide is formed. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air and stays in the bowl. Carbon dioxide gas replaces the air with the oxygen needed for the tea light’s flame in the bowl. Finally, the non-flammable carbon dioxide gas smothers the flame.

You can watch this experiment as a video here:

Vinegar and Baking Soda Bomb

Background

Vinegar is an acid and reacts with baking soda to form salt, water and carbon dioxide gas. The extremely fast formation of carbon dioxide gas will cause your zipper back bomb to explode.

You will need

  • Plastic zipper bag
  • Vinegar (any kind will do, but you will need quite a lot of it)
  • Baking soda
  • Cup, glass or mug
  • Table spoon

What to do

  1. Go outside to do this experiment.
  2. Check your zipper bag to make sure that it does NOT have any holes or rips before the experiment.
  3. Fill your glass or mug completely with vinegar
  4. Pour the vinegar from your glass or mug into the plastic zipper bag.
  5. Place the zipper bag on the ground.
  6. Add one heaped table spoon of baking soda and quickly close the bag.
  7. Quickly step away from the zipper bag and watch what happens.

You can watch this experiment here:

Best of Current Science Documentaries

From dinosaurs to the Solar System, here is a guide to the best Science documentaries on Netflix and BBC iPlayer right now.

Netflix

Science and Technology

  • Revolutions: From the car to the robot, this series takes you through humanity’s greatest inventions and their history.
  • Apollo 11: This documentary explores the adventure of the first moon landing with recently rediscovered original footage.
  • Mission Control: From flight doctor to IT, this film highlights the importance of the jobs on the ground during the moon landings.
  • The Universe: Explore the secrets of the universe in this series which also teaches you about the latest discoveries.

Nature and Natural History

  • Walking with Dinosaurs: Dive into the world of dinosaurs as they come to life in this series.
  • Night on Earth: This nature series’ new technology lifts the darkness and reveals the lives of animals at night.
  • The Tigers of Scotland: This film tells you about the life of the endangered Scottish wild cats.
  • A Plastic Ocean: This documentary investigates the environmental impacts of plastic pollution on animals living in the ocean.

BBC iPlayer

Science and Technology

  • Chemistry – A Volatile History: This series shows the breakthroughs that made it possible to harness elements and compounds.
  • Shock and Awe: This series takes you through the history of electricity and the latest discoveries in the field of electricity and magnetism.
  • The Planets: Professor Brian Cox takes you to the origins of our Solar System and its planets, from Mercury to Neptune and even Pluto.

Nature and Environment

  • War on Plastic: This documentary explains how you can reduce your use of plastics to help the environment.
  • Seven Worlds, One Planet: This series takes you to each continent and shows you how its animals live.
  • Forces of Nature: Professor Brian Cox explains how natural events create Earth’s beauty.
  • Dynasties: From tigers to penguins, this series follows endangered species that fight for their survival.

M&M Diffusion Experiment

Background

Diffusion is the movement of particles from a place of high concentration to a place of low concentration. We can also say that particles move from where there are lots of particles to where there are less particles.

In this experiment we are going to look at the diffusion of colour particles. You will observe the colour moving away from the sweets where lots of colour particles are found to places with less colour particles in the middle of the plate.

You will need

  • M&Ms or Smarties
  • Plate
  • Water

What to do

  1. Once you start this experiment, you cannot move it. So, make sure you choose a good spot to start.
  2. Pour the bag of M&Ms or Smarties onto your plate.
  3. Remove the sweets that landed in the middle of your plate.
  4. Place the remaining sweets in a circle around the outside of your plate.
  5. Remove any remaining M&Ms or Smarties that do not fit in the circle.
  6. Slowly add water to your plate. It needs to reach the M&Ms, but they should not float. From now on you cannot move the experiment.
  7. Observe what happens to the colour of the sweets.

You can also watch this experiment on YouTube:

Reading Exercise: Titration

Titration experiments can be used to produce pure salts by reacting acids and alkalis in a very controlled way. A neutralization reaction takes place where acid and alkali react to form the neutral products salt and water.

In a titration, the acid is added to a fixed volume of alkali, for example sodium hydroxide, in a conical flask. A burette is used to slowly drip the acid into the conical flask. The burette is a tall apparatus with a tap at the bottom that controls the flow of the acid (see image above).

A few drops of indicator are added to the alkali, so you can follow the reaction. The end-point is when the indicator changes colour. A single indicator like phenolphthalein is used because it shows only one very obvious colour change and gives you a sharp end-point. Phenolphthalein will change from pink to colorless at the end-point.

To obtain the pure salt, the water needs to be evaporated from the solution after the end of the titration by heating.

In industry, titration is used in many fields not only to produce pure salts, but also to test the amount of acids or alkalis in materials. For example, titration is very common to determine the amount of acids and alkalis in foods like chocolate. The method is also applied by construction companies to investigate the quality of building materials.

Questions

  1. What is produced by a titration experiment?
  2. Which reaction takes place generally during a titration experiment?
  3. Name the tall apparatus used to add the acid to the conical flask with the alkali.
  4. Which indicator can be used to identify the end-point of a titration experiment.
  5. Why is universal indicator not used to identify the end-point?
  6. What are the colours of phenolphthalein in an acid and in an alkali?
  7. What needs to be done after the titration to obtain the pure salt?
  8. Name two uses of titration experiments in industry.

Rainbow in a Glass

Background

Density tells you how heavy a certain volume of a substance is. It decides which materials can float on water and which sink. For example, a rock will sink because its density is higher that the density of water. However, wood floats because its density is lower than that of water.

The same is true for liquids. Liquids with high densities sink, while liquids with lower densities float. We are going to use this to make a rainbow in a glass. Chocolate sauce has a highest density of the four liquids and will stay at the bottom. However, water has the lowest density and will, therefore, float on top.

You will need

  • 1 Glass
  • 1 Spoon
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Honey
  • Washing up liquid
  • Water
  • Red food colouring

What to do

  1. Start by pouring chocolate sauce into your glass until it is one quarter full.
  2. Use the spoon to carefully add the honey until your glass is half full. Do NOT stir!
  3. Now add the washing up liquid slowly and until your glass is three quarters full.
  4. In a separate glass mix water with red food colouring.
  5. Carefully add the water dropwise until your glass is full. Do NOT stir!

You can watch this experiment as a YouTube video:

 

Lemon Volcano

You will need

  • 1 plate or tray
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cutting knife (to cut the lemon)
  • 1 butter knife
  • Baking soda
  • 1 table spoon
  • Food colouring (1 to 4 colours of your choice)

What to do

  1. Cut your lemon in half. Then cut of a bit at the bottom, so that the lemon can now stand up.
  2. Place the lemon on the plate or tray with the wide side facing up.
  3. Use the butter knife to poke holes in the flesh.
  4. Add 8 to 10 drops of food colouring spread out over the lemon.
  5. Add 1 heaped table spoon of baking soda.
  6. Poke with the butter knife to mix the baking soda with the lemon juice.

The acid in the lemon reacts with the baking soda to form salt, water and carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide gas will cause fizzing. We also call this effervescence.

You can watch this experiment on YouTube:

Coke and Mentos Fountain

Background

Catalysts are substances that speed up chemical reactions. However, they do not directly take part in the reaction and are not used up themselves.

Cars contain catalysts in catalytic converters that split toxic substances released by the car’s engine into less harmful ones.

The gas bubbles inside coke are the result of a chemical reaction where carbonic acid decomposes to water and carbon dioxide gas. The bubbles you feel when drinking coke are carbon dioxide. The word equation for this reaction is:

Carbonic acid → Water + Carbon dioxide

Carbonic acid is the reactant. Water and carbon dioxide are the products.

Mentos can act as a catalyst and increase the speed of carbon dioxide production. This causes the foaming you can see when adding Mentos to coke. The scientific word for bubbles, fizzing or foaming is effervescence.

You will need:

  • 1 bottle with coke or diet coke (Normal coke and diet coke both work, but diet coke is less sticky and easier to clean up afterwards.)
  • 1 pack of Mentos

What to do:

  1. Go outside to do this experiment.
  2. Put the coke bottle on the floor and remove the lid.
  3. Put about 5 pieces of Mentos inside at the same time.
  4. Step back and watch.
  5. You should see a lot of foaming due to the increased carbon dioxide production.

Questions

  1. What is meant by a “catalyst”?
  2. What is the catalyst in this reaction?
  3. Is the Mentos used up in this reaction or not? Why?
  4. What is meant by the “reactant” in a reaction? What is the reactant in this reaction?
  5. What is meant by the “product” in a reaction? What are the products in this reaction?
  6. Where are catalysts used in our everyday lives?
  7. What is meant by “effervescence”?

You can watch this experiment on YouTube: