Mass the Gas

In this demo, baking soda and vinegar are mixed in a plastic storage bag. The reaction container is massed before and after the reaction for students to see the Law of Conservation of Mass in action.
NaHCO3 (s) + CH3COOH (aq) →CO2 (g) + H2O (l) + CH3COONa (aq)

Balloon Kabobs

balloon with a skewer through it

In this demo, a skewer is pierced through a balloon without popping it. The balloon is made from a rubber polymer. The polymer is made of many long, elastic, overlapping chains, very similar to spaghetti. When a skewer pierces the balloon, these chains are stretched and pushed open to make a hole for the skewer and the balloon does not pop. It is important to pierce the balloon near the bottom & top, where the rubber has the least amount of stress. The polymer is more able to stretch and rearrange, allowing the skewer to pass through.

Marshmallow Magic

When a marshmallow is placed in a large capped syringe and the plunger is pushed in, the air in the marshmallow contracts from the pressure. Conversely, if the plunger is pulled back, the pressure decreases causing the air in the marshmallow to expand.

Non-Popping Balloon

When water is placed in a balloon, the balloon can be placed over a flame without popping. Water absorbs the heat from the flame, so the rubber of the balloon does not become weak and break like it does with the dry balloon.

The Disappearing Cup

acetone dissolves Styrofoam

Acetone dissolves a Styrofoam cup because of the principle like dissolves like.

Silly Putty

polyvinylacatate, silly putty polymer

This is a hands on activity that demonstrates how chemical reactions change the properties of a substance. In this case, borax (sodium borate) changes the sticky properties of Elmer’s glue, to make a fun to play with putty. Elmer’s glue is polyvinyl acetate, and when sodium borate is added to it, a cross-linked polymer is created giving the glue very different properties that make for a fun activity for students!

Relight A Candle

Candle wax is flammable as a vapor, so a candle can be relit by igniting the smoke trail of a recently blown out candle, which contains wax vapor. This can be used to demonstrate how caution needs to be taken with flammable vapors.

Red Cabbage Indicator

red cabbage indicator in common household solutions

Anthocyanin, which is found in red cabbage, is a natural indicator that can be easily extracted.

Rainbow in a Beaker

densities of sugar solutions layering liquids

Sugar solutions that have different concentrations have different densities; the more sugar in a solution the more dense it is. Therefore less dense solutions can be layered on top of denser ones.

Pick Up An Ice Cube

This demo picks up an ice cube without lifting it. The salt changes the melting point of the ice cube which “freezes” it to the string, allowing the demonstrator to pick the ice cube up.

Pepper in Water

Water has a very high surface tension because of the strong hydrogen bonding between water molecules, which allows the pepper to float on top of the water. When a small amount of soap is added it forms a monolayer on the surface. The monolayer spreads away from the point of contact causing the pepper to move to the edges of the dish.

M&M Color Wheel

M&Ms in water, candy coating dissolving

When M&M’s are placed in water, the outer shell, which is made of sugar, dissolves. The sugar moves from a place of high concentration (the M&M) to a place of low concentration (the water away from the M&M). When the sugar shell dissolves and moves outward, it takes the layer of food dye with it. When more than one M&M is placed into a petri dish the colors do not mix because the concentration of sugar at the interface is approximately the same. Also, around the bottom of the M&M water appears cloudy because the sugar that is dissolved is more dense than the water, so it sinks.

Lemon Fizz

lemon reaction with baking soda

When basic baking soda (NaHCO3) is combined with acidic lemon juice (mainly citric acid, H3C6H5O7) an acid base reaction occurs. The reaction releases CO2 which can be captured using dish soap to form bubbles.
H3C6H5O7 (aq) + 3 NaHCO3 (s) → 3 CO2 (g) + 3 H2O (l) + Na3C6H5O7 (aq)

Jumping Flame

This demo uses a stove made out of aluminum cans that can be lit using knowledge of vapor pressure. When the acetone surrounding the stove is lit, the acetone in the stove boils, releasing vapors that are then lit on fire.
CH3OCH3 + 3O2 → 2CO2 + 3H2O

Electrocute a Pickle

pickle electrocution

When electricity is passed through a pickle, it is conducted through Na+ and the Cl- ions that are present in the pickle. The electricity excites the electrons to a higher energy state, and when the fall back to ground state they emit a yellow/orange light.

Diet and Regular Soda

diet soda floats regular soda sinks coke

Diet soda contains artificial sweeteners while regular soda has sugar in it. Artificial sweeteners are so sweet so only a small amount is needed, where as much more sugar is needed to achieve the same sweetness. Because regular soda has more mass in the same size can, it is more dense than the diet soda.

Colored Flowers

flowers colored with food coloring

As water evaporates off the surface of flower petals, capillary action in the stems pulls water up to the leaves and petals. If the water is colored, that also colors the petals.

Collapse a Soda Can

crushed can

When a small amount of water is heated inside the can, steam is produced, filling the can. When the can is inverted into cold water, all of the steam condenses quickly causing the can to implode.

Chemistry Pop Guns

This demo harnesses the reaction of baking soda and vinegar to blow a cork off a test tube.
NaHCO3 (s) + CH3COOH (aq) →CO2 (g) + H2O (l) + CH3COONa (aq)