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Subject: Simple chemistry experiments for kids rss

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Brendan Tracey
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I'm a part of a group that teaches science and engineering lessons to 9-11 year olds. We do eight lessons, that are all under the guise of them building a rocketship to go to Mars. Our lessons generally involve teaching some science or engineering concept (F=ma, light and strong structures) and end with some sort of activity (launching a water bottle rocket / having a bridge building contest). We are in the process of brainstorming for the new year, and thinking about making changes to our lesson plan. We realized that we don't have anything having to do with chemistry, and that it would be fun and useful to add that. I'm hoping someone in BGG world has some interesting ideas for a chemistry experiment. We will be able to put a lesson around it, so don't worry about how well it fits into the theme. I would like for the experiment which is very visual about things combining. Remember these are young kids, so the less subtle the better. Here are some additional constraints:

- We have a little under an hour for the full lesson (introduction, teaching them whatever we want to teach, and demo), so it can't take too long.
- Ideally, the experiment would involve something that the kids could do in groups of three or four. We have a number of helpers, so something that requires supervision is a problem. However, this will be done in an american school system, so it can't be at all dangerous.
- If the 'final product' needs to be done in front of the room is fine. For example, in the bridge building challenge, we have the kids build bridges but then we do all the weighing for the weigh-off
- If there is an in-front of the room demo that compliments this (or if all you have is an idea for an in front of the room demo, that's very welcome too)
- The mess requirements have to be minimal, as we have to clean up after ourselves in a limited amount of time.
- We have roughly zero budget. An ideal experiment would be one that costs nothing year after year. Lacking that, something that has a high upfront cost, but minimal to no recurring cost is better. We may be able to get a grant to buy a thing, but it's unlikely we'll get a budget to continually buy supplies.

Lastly, briefly what our lessons are (topic, in front of the room demo, hands on activity)
1. F=ma, experiments to demonstrate, launch water bottle rockets
2. Solar system (no demos)
3. Four forces of flight, build up an airplane, paper airplanes
4. Mars, different ways to land on mars, building an egg drop
5. Electricity, kids build up small circuits
6. Phases of matter, liquid nitrogen, liquid nitrogen ice cream
7. Structures, light and strong shapes, bridge building out of paper and tape
8. Rockets, kids build and launch their own model rockets

Thanks eveyone!
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Jacqui Bankler
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I found a great website that lists a bunch of experiments:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/homeexperiments/Chemistry_Expe...

Some of the ideas included making ph indicators using red cabbage, making chalk chromatography, ketchup and baking soda volcano, and a potato clock.
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Ed Holzman
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We had fun in college mixing iodine crystals with ammonia and creating nitrogen tri-iodide (NI3) which is a mild contact explosive that is very unstable and fun to play with (think of it a kiddie nitroglycerin). Just be aware that when it detonates it sounds like a gunshot and leaves behind violet stains that last quite a long time (until the iodine residue goes through sublimation).
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Paul DeStefano
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A few years back, my son determined some cereals contain enough iron to react magnetically:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/513813/my-sons-disturbing-sc...
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Adrian Hague
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7. Structures.

When I was a kid at school we were given a great practical to do with structures:

Build a bridge that is twice as long as the single longest piece used. The bridge must be able to hold 50 times its own weight.

In our practical we used meccano pieces. But this can also be done with Lego/ cardboard, tape and sticks.

Phases of matter
'Cardice' (frozen carbon dioxide) is fun stuff. It exhibits the phenomenon of sublimation. It goes from solid to gas without passing through the liquid stage. You can also freeze mercury solid with it, stick a bit in a rubber glove and tie the glove (expands then bang!)

As far as the Mars egg-landing goes, google a brit-tv series from the 80's called 'The Great Egg race' for inspiration.
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Brendan Tracey
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Paul, that's really cool! Do you think it would be over the heads of third graders? The magnets part is fine, but I'm wondering about understanding that it's the iron in the food, and not that flakes become magnetic when crushed (or whatever).

Adrian, thanks for the suggestion, though all of those things are already part of the program!
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Paul DeStefano
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howeman wrote:
Paul, that's really cool! Do you think it would be over the heads of third graders?


You know your kids better than me. I guess its all in how you present it.
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