Demonstrating the Glass Transition of Polylactic Acid with a Rattle

Polylactic acid (PLA) exhibits a glass transition from hard and brittle to soft and rubbery when immersed in boiling water. PLA-based structures containing a small metal object can be used as rattles when they are shaken. The sound of the rattles change when they are heated above or cooled below their glass transition, enabling them to be used as demonstrations.

Demo A Day IV

Dean Campbell uses demonstrations and props to illustrate concepts while teaching his collegiate Materials Chemistry course. Many of the examples described are also suitable for use in high school and collegiate General Chemistry courses. 

Ice Clouds 2.0

What is some of the chemistry involved in the formation of ice clouds when boiling water is thrown into icy air?

Burning paper towels soaked in various metal nitrates

Igniting paper towels that have been soaked in concentrated potassium nitrate and allowed to dry yields a flame reminiscent of that produced by guncotton. Repeating this experiment with other metal nitrates produces flames with different colors, plus a few other chemical surprises! This series of experiments is fascinating and connects to a wide variety of chemical topics including combustion, redox reactions, chemical thermodynamics, and flame tests. You don't want to miss this one!

Unit Cells and Layer Sequences using Dimpled Packaging

Regularly dimpled trays such as those used in food packaging can be used to represent layers of atoms in solid structures. For example, the square array of dimples in transparent plastic mini quiche trays can be used to depict layers within cubic or tetragonal unit cells. Multiple solid structures and ways to represent those structures are described.