Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Let's Talk Chemistry!

Originally written for my personal blog.

I finally got to do a really, really cool Let's Talk Science activity at my old high school with my partners Zahra and Carolyne. It was a chemistry magic show, where we played with everything from slime to fire to liquid nitrogen. Oh yes, and we taught them some chemistry on the way.

Here's me in 'mad scientist' mode, posing with the Evil Scientist Brew made with dish soap, sodium hydroxide, universal indicator, and dry ice. The dry ice creates the 'smoke' and acidifies the solution, eventually changing its colour.

Evil Scientist's Brew

Bubbling Away

The fire comes after playing a trick on one poor, unsuspecting student. We asked him to mix together two solutions for us into a homogeneous solution. Much to his dismay, though, a solid is created! We ask him to fix his 'mistake' by burning (and thus melting) it, but it turns out that doesn't work either because what we've actually made it Sterno.

So once we have our fire going, we throw in various metals to get pretty colours.

Potassium Flames

I had a lot of fun demonstrating the fast burning nature of gun cotton...

Gun Cotton, Part 2

...and the students loved our elephant's toothpaste...

Elephant Toothpaste

...making slime...

Making Slime

... and playing with liquid nitrogen!

Liquid Nitrogen: In the Sink

There are many more photos of these 'experiments' and others (like 'death to the gummy bear') available on my Chemistry Magic Show Flickr set (all photos that I'm not in were taken by me).

This just goes show how much fun outreach can be!