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

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    NOVA - Origins
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Entries in video (90)


pH Pipes

Indicators are chemicals that show what type of chemical reaction occurred. I decided to have some fun with some pH indicators--chemicals that signify if a solution is acidic or basic. In the video, 3 different pH indicators, bromothymol blue, phenol red, and phenolphthalein (and ammonia) are used. The solutions are in long plastic pipes whereupon Alka Seltzer tablets are dropped. The Alka Seltzer tablets react with the water to produce carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide dissolves in water creating carbonic acid and thus making the solution more acidic. The color of the solution changes as a result. Later ammonia, a base, is added to show how the color changes when the solution turns basic.


Sodium Acetate Crystallization

Crystals are solids that are formed from regular repeating patterns of molecules. One of the most spectacular crystal formations is sodium acetate. I made sodium acetate by using a procedure from instructables. It was interesting, but very time consuming, so purchasing a bottle of it maybe a better way to go. When sodium acetate, CH3–COO Na+, is dissolved in a little water, the oppositely charged ions dissociate. If left undisturbed and cooled, the ions do not form crystals and the sodium acetate remains a liquid, far below its melting point. If disturbed, or a tiny sodium acetate crystal is introduced into the solution, the oppositely charged ions (CH3–COO and Na+) form a solid crytal structure quickly. The process is exothermic, releasing heat energy, which explains why this process is commonly referred to as "hot ice".


New and Improved Fire Hand

This is a new variation on my "Fire Hand" demonstration. I never did like the size of the methane bubbles that were produced, so I got an idea from a Mythbusters' segment on methane bubbles. They used a tube with many small holes to create the small methane bubbles. I decided to to do a variation of it using aquarium tubing. The result is a bigger handful of methane bubbles which means a bigger flame!


Flaming Colors

Students in my classes have to determine if a substance has changed physically or chemically. In order to do that, they need to know if the properties of a substance has changed. We can look at many different properties of a substance such as color, density, boiling point, melting point, taste, texture, hardness, etc. One of the most exciting properties of matter is the color in which they burn.  In the video above I show color flame candles and then show a demonstration of two different compounds, strontium chloride and copper sulfate, mixed with denatured alcohol, that produce large colorful flames.


Water Bottle Rockets

At the end of the year, students get a chance to be the scientists in several projects. One of my absolute favorites is the water bottle rocket. The video shows the general design of the rockets and several launches. What I love about the project is that they chose one variable to change that will increase flight distance. Variables include fin shape, fin size, fin placement, volume of water, etc. I also love that there is not just one design that works. Here is the handout that I give to students.

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