Chemistry on Stamps #1

Michael Morgan is the president of the Chemistry and Physics on Stamps Study Unit. He has collected stamps and shared his interest with others for almost 30 years. 

Chemical Illustrations of Flattening the Curve

With the current global COVID-19 pandemic, there has been much discussion of “flattening the curve” by social distancing. These ideas can be demonstrated chemically, for example, by the iron-catalyzed decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to produce an oxygen gas foam. Decreased hydrogen peroxide concentrations, representing decreased human population concentrations from social distancing, produce oxygen gas foam, representing cases of illness, at a slower rate. A similar demonstration can be achieved using the popular Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. These simple experiments are best used as stand-alone demonstrations.

Global Experiments

With millions of teachers and students facing remote-learning because of COVID-19, a global experiment may be a great way to engage students at home.

Making a (big) eruption with chemistry!

As teachers, we can leverage fruitful discussions about chemical control with students to elicit more about students' initial ideas and ways of reasoning. From asking students to clarify their own thinking, we can identify students’ own productive ideas that we can capitalize on to advance their thinking.

A Multi-Colored Equilibrium Experiment

Solutions of copper (II) dissolved in acetone are easy to prepare, and can display orange, yellow, green, and blue color depending upon conditions. Such solutions allow for a variety of demonstrations and experiments that illustrate principles of chemical equilibrium. 

Limiting Reagents and Gases

This unique microscale gas collection technique provides students with reasonably good data in a short period of time. Students have more time to analyze the data and communicate their findings.