A very cool experiment that I do is a demonstration of the properties of different gases. The air around you is actually made up of a number of gases mixed together, and we use the oxygen in it when we breathe – it is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases (mostly argon and water vapor). As you can see, air is actually made up of mostly nitrogen, a mostly unreactive, or inert, gas. There are lots of other gases, though, and a few of them have some really exciting properties.
Most people are very familiar with glow sticks – we see them all the time around holidays like Halloween or Independence Day! Even so, glow sticks are still amazing to see in action. They create a soft light of just about any color that lasts for hours or days, and do this without producing any heat whatsoever (unlike electric light bulbs, which get super hot!). We create a glow stick reaction during our show that is super bright but doesn’t last very long, and do a neat experiment by mixing two different colors to see what happens.
Way back in 2011, I posted about a neat color change experiment called The Chemical Chameleon. Nowadays, we do a different demonstration in its place called the Chemical Traffic Light. This one is great for presentation because it is actually repeatable, which is pretty rare in chemistry!
In this experiment you will build your own cold lava lamp! Regular (hot) lava lamps work by heating up wax inside a glass bottle that also has water in it. The hot wax expands a little and becomes less dense than the water, so it floats to the top in large blobs. When it cools back down, it becomes denser and sinks back to the bottom to be heated up again. You can recreate this same effect at home using a different principle and easy-to-find materials!
On April 8, 2011 the ‘Science Brothers’ visited Hiland Park Elementary School. This was the first show by the Science Brothers at an elementary school; and the media was there. Were we nervous? You bet we were!
On April 29th, 2011 the Science Brothers visited Parker Elementary School. Another beautiful day for science, this time we had extra help. Unfortunately, we ran into some problems with the sound system.