Did you know that sand can be converted into a mixture of gases that spontaneously ignites in air? The procedures involved are relatively simple to perform, spectacular to observe, and relate to a rich assortment of chemical principles.
Thin sheets of polystyrene can be patterned with permanent markers to represent repeating units of the polymer and then shrunk down in size using heat. The shrunken models of the repeating units can be connected with a string and then flipped into positions to demonstrate different types of polymer tacticity.
Addition of a small amount of azobenzene to eicosane can lower its melting point to where it can be melted by body heat. This can be used in demonstrations and classroom activities related to freezing point depression and phase diagrams.
Thermal paper such as that used for point of sale receipts typically functions by darkening when exposed to heat. The pigment system used in this paper also darkens when exposed to solvents of intermediate polarity and acids. This enables thermal paper to be used as an inexpensive sort of indicator paper for a variety of demonstrations.
Inspired by a recent article in the Journal of Chemical Education, Tom Kuntzleman attempted to extract lithium from a coin battery, and to use the extracted lithium to produce a pink flame.
When introducing acid-base theory, the concept of indicators and their pH color changes is usually discussed. To illustrate some color transitions to students, a classroom demonstration has been devised based on a memorable scene from Disney’s 1964 movie Mary Poppins.
Chad Husting uses a few simple gas law experiments to introduce his students to the particulate level of chemistry.
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.
Check out the solution to Chemical Mystery #18: Peek A Boo Blue!
Can you use your knowledge of chemistry to figure out what is going on in this blue/green/yellow/blue color change?