Chemical Mystery #9: Liquid Nitrogen vs. Dry Ice

Bucket launch

A 2L soda pop bottle is filled about one-third full with either liquid nitrogen or solid carbon dioxide (dry ice) and water. The bottle is sealed and a plastic bucket is placed on top. Do you think the liquid nitrogen or dry ice and water will make the bucket go higher? Can you explain the results using chemistry?

JCE 93.12 December 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education December 2016

Improving Student Understanding

The December 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: synthesis in the laboratory, examining and using a flipped classroom, improving labs through multimedia-based and student-directed learning, using applied math for better understanding, improving student understanding of thermodynamics, inclusive chemistry teaching, using manuscript review for assessment, climate chemistry, spectroscopy experiments, performing safe demonstrations.

Big Ideas in AP Chemistry: Connections Among Thermodynamics and Equilibrium

revamping a unit

I have a confession: thermodynamics is not my strong suit. The data set I got from the College Board confirmed my lack of confidence in the summer of 2015. With the hope of improvements, I spent some time revamping my thermo unit and I implemented it near the end of last school year. I will share an activity that I feel was quite formative for students and for me in making connections among thermodynamic principles and equilibrium.


JCE 93.09 September 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education September 2016

Engaging Student Interest and Inquiry

The September 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: copper chemistry; safety; using brewing to teach chemistry; 3D-printed models; learning using games; open-ended approaches to teaching; innovative methods to teach biochemistry; polymer chemistry; organic synthesis labs; teaching physical chemistry; chemistry field trips.

JCE 93.05 May 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education May 2016 Cover

Thinking Like a Chemist

The May 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: assessment & learning theories, science literacy & chemical information, engaging young chemists in chemistry, analysis of real-world samples, organic chemistry in the classroom and lab, computational chemistry in the laboratory, thermodynamics, kinetics projects, understanding hydrophobic & hydrophilic materials.

JCE 92.04—April 2015 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education April 2015 Cover

Chemists Celebrate Earth Day

The April 2015 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available for subscribers at This issue features articles on atmospheric and environmental chemistry. Also featured in this issue are: microfluidic devices; problem solving strategies; information literacy; kinetics & thermodynamics; investigations of gases and organic synthesis; outreach.

Liquid Nitrogen, Gas Laws and Rocket Science

Liquid nitrogen rocket

The “bucket launch” is a fantastic experiment you can do if you have access to liquid nitrogen. Depending upon conditions, we have observed the bucket to launch anywhere from 80 to 160 feet high. See the video.

How do you teach "entropy" to high school students?

I was recently drawn to an article published ASAP in JCE entitled Application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics To Explain the Working of Toys. Erick Castellon wrote the article highlighting the use of three toys that are used to help students develop an understanding of the second law of thermodynamics and entropy by having them observe the working of the toys and the energy transfers that occur while playing with them. I already had two of the toys, the radiometer and the drinking bird. I ordered the stirling engine from the link provided in the supporting information. As I waited for the stirling engine to arrive from Japan (which was only a few days) I attempted to write an activity to guide my students to conceptual understanding as they worked with the toys.