I think this experiment provides a fantastic vehicle to involve students of all ages in small, hands-on and exploratory research projects. Like many others, my students and I have investigated various aspects of this interesting fountain.
Are you familiar with the dynamic density bottle experiment? This interesting experiment was invented by Lynn Higgins, and is sold by various science supply companies. Two immiscible liquids (usually salt water and isopropyl alcohol) and two different types of plastic pieces are contained within a dynamic density bottle. The plastic pieces display curious floating and sinking behavior when the bottle is shaken. You can find out even more about how a colleague and I have explored the experiment by attending our session within the ChemEd X Conference: Chemistry Education for the Next Generation.
Food chemistry is an interesting and fun class for students. Read the article for some suggestions about resources along with an outline of a unit developed around water in cooking.
Looking over my student's papers, there may have been more misconceptions created because of the way I planned the curriculum. In all of the experiments students can see and observe that not all of the crystals or material dissolves yet the water starts to conduct. In their minds there is evidence that they believe either something DOES dissolve or it does NOT. Clearly, partial dissolving is initially too much to consider.
Addition of a white solid to a green solution causes the solution to separate into some truly beautiful colors...
Is it possible to use materials found in high school chemistry labs to extract and subsequently detect cocaine on dollar bills? Let me know what you think after reading this blog post!
For my students and me, the AP Chemistry exam does not mark the end of the school year. Once the AP exam is over, my students are exhausted but our class continues to meet for three more weeks. Each year we complete a qualitative analysis lab, but this year we finished earlier than I anticipated. For the first time all year, I have the luxury of time.
45 minutes or less
First, I had my students examine the conductivity of a puddle of water the size of a nickel. They checked for conductivity. Then they took a very small amount of sodium carbonate and a fresh puddle of water and pushed in a few crystals from the side. You can still see the crystals in the water but it tested positive for conductivity. They had to explain this. They did the same with a fresh puddle of water and a few crystals of copper (II) sulfate. Again, it tested positive for conductivity but they could still see the blue crystal. Finally, they started again with another fresh puddle of water, pushed a few crystals of sodium carbonate on one side and on the opposite side they pushed in a few crystals of copper (II) sulfate. After waiting five minutes, a solid dull blue precipitate formed in the middle. Also, the drop tested positive for conductivity.