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I made ScienceFix.com to share my favorite demos that I do in my middle school science classes.  

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  • Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon
    Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon
    by Sara Howard
  • NOVA - Origins
    NOVA - Origins
    starring Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • Human Body: Pushing the Limits
    Human Body: Pushing the Limits
    starring Bray Poor
Friday
Jul312009

Video Demo: Boiling Points

Three liquids (oil, isopropyl alcohol, and water) are placed on a hot plate. Over time all of the isopropyl alcohol boils away, half of the water boils, and none of the oil boils. This demonstrates that isopropyl alcohol has the lowest boiling point, followed by water, and oil has the highest boiling point. I show my students this video as we learn about phase change, and the properties of matter (boiling point, melting point, etc.). I ask my students the following questions after the video.

 1. Which liquids boiled?
2. Where did the lost liquids go?
3. The temperatures 78 degrees C, 100 degrees C, and 204 degrees C are the boiling points for the above substances. Match the boiling point temperatures to the substance.
4. Which would hurt more if one of these were to touch your skin: boiling oil or boiling water? Explain.
5. Explain why oil is used to fry foods instead of water (like potatoes, fish, etc.). Hint: look at their boiling points.

Wednesday
Jul292009

Video Demo: Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher

This video demonstrates some of the properties of carbon dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide gas is more dense than air. The gas can be poured kind of like a liquid. The video shows carbon dioxide gas being poured to extinguish a candle flame. A candle flame needs oxygen gas to burn. Since carbon dioxide gas is surrounding the flame, the lack of oxygen gas makes the flame go out. You could also use dry ice as a source of cargon dioxide instead of vinegar and baking soda.

materials needed

large poster board folded

video

Tuesday
Jul282009

Lesson: Rainbow Volume

An important component in learning matter, is being able to measure how much space matter takes up–in other words volume. Measuring the volume of liquids requires the use of a graduated cylinder. Students need practice to use the graduated cylinder effectively. My colleague, Cindy Giove, shared the lab activity, Rainbow Volume with me. It is a fun way for students to practice and an easy way for teachers to assess their growth. Students first start out with beakers of blue, red, and yellow water. They then measure a certain amount of colored water into each test tube. If they follow the directions carefully, and do the measurements accurately they will end up with test tubes with 11 ml of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple water. Download rainbow volume handout. Download rainbow volume key.

Materials: beakers of red, blue, and yellow water, and a 25 ml graduated cylinder

Materials: empty test tubes at the beginning

End results: colors and equal volumes

 

Monday
Jul272009

Video Demo: Reaction Chamber

This is a demo that I only show the video. This is an example of what happens in the reaction chamber of a liquid fuel rocket. I use about 100 ml of denatured alcohol. I pour it into the 5 gallon plastic bottle. I swirl it around vigorously, trying to speed up the evaporation of the alcohol. I pour out the excess liquid alcohol. I then set the bottle on the counter, making sure it is flat. With a candle attached to the end of the meter stick, I insert the candle in the opening of the bottle. Again, I only show the video of this to my students and don’t do it live. It demonstrates the volatile reaction that occurs with oxygen in the air. The resultant hot gasses funnel through the opening (nozzle on a rocket) at a higher speed. This demo also shows when the particles of a chemical are spread out (increased surface area), the speed of a reaction increases.

ONLY TEACHER DEMO! I ONLY RECOMMEND TO TEACHERS THAT THEY ONLY SHOW THIS VIDEO IN CLASS AND DON’T DO THE DEMO IN CLASS. NEVER, EVER USE A GLASS BOTTLE! ONLY USE A PLASTIC BOTTLE.


Wednesday
Jul152009

Video Demo: Water Up

An inverted 100 ml beaker is placed inside a 400 ml beaker filled with colored water. The 400 ml beaker is placed on a hot plate. The water boils for a while, and then the beaker is removed. The water vapor inside cools condenses back into liquid. The molecules of a liquid take up less space than a gas, and therefore the pressure inside lowers. The atmospheric pressure pushes the colored water up inside the beaker. This demonstration can be found in Tik L. Liem’s Invitations to Science Inquiry.