Short descriptions of demonstrations and props that Dean Campbell has used while teaching his collegiate Environmental Chemistry course. Many of these examples are also suitable for use in high school and collegiate General Chemistry courses.
The reaction of hydrogen and oxygen gases to form water is well known to be an exothermic reaction. That reaction can occur by first absorbing the hydrogen into palladium metal, and then placing the resulting palladium hydride into contact with oxygen in the air. Infrared and visible light videos were recorded for this process involving palladium foil, and the Green Chemistry and safety aspects of these activities are considered.
The familiar soda fountains that can be produced by adding Mentos candies to plastic bottles of carbonated beverages can also be produced by adding objects to carbonated beverages in aluminum cans. A variety of simple methods for producing soda fountains from cans are described.
The authors revisit "flattening the curve" demonstrations published during 2020 to see how they could represent the impact of vaccinations on the COVID 19 battlefront. These demonstrations do not demonstrate the mechanisms of vaccines themselves, but are rather analogies to their potential effect on a population. In these analogies, gas production still represents illness, but this time people are represented by objects added to the solutions which either enable gas production (unvaccinated individuals) or do not enable gas production (vaccinated individuals). These simple experiments are best used as stand-alone demonstrations, and links to videos are included in this writeup.
I recently watched a video in which a chemist (who goes by the nickname “NurdRage”) activated a chemiluminescent reaction by vapor deposition. I wanted to try it out for myself! Unfortunately, oxalyl chloride is toxic, corrosive, and a lachrymator. Thus, the experiment conducted by NurdRage needs to be conducted in a hood, and it is not particularly amenable to simple presentations. I began to wonder how I could create this vapor activated chemiluminescence using simple materials.
In one of my last blog posts I wrote of how I sometimes enjoy ending a unit with a series of demonstrations and using them to elicit a dialog between the students and myself to check for understanding. It is always a fascinating experience to hear the misconceptions that many students have the day before the test.
The “Elephant Toothpaste” experiment is a very popular, albeit messy chemistry demonstration. To carry out this experiment, place a 250 mL graduated cylinder on something that you wouldn’t mind getting messy.
Happy New Year! Did you know that 2015 is the International Year of Light (IYL)? IYL is a “global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health1”. IYL is sponsored by several organizations with interests in science and science education, including the European Physical Society, the Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, and the American Institute of Physics. You can find several lesson plans, videos and other educational resources on the IYL website2.