Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the January 2019 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education.
Based upon reader comments on previously published, Chemical Mystery #12, I experimented and found that this demonstration is easy to pull off with relatively inexpensive and easy to find materials.
Can you explain what is happening in Chemical Mystery #12?
Students broke up into teams with the question, "Do bowling balls sink or float in water?".
As I began to prepare my labs for this upcoming year, I decided to put a bit of a twist on a previous density of a block lab I had used in the past entitled the Measurement Challenge that is sold by Flinn Scientific. It can also be used to find the mass of a block given the materials density and requiring students to measure and calculate the blocks volume. My added twist resulted in great scientific discourse.
If you are looking for a measuring and density activity that will be challenging, allow students to experience success early on and can be boxed up to use again, you might consider trying the activity that I am sharing in this post.
My first experiment involves measuring the density of water. Each group of two kids is assigned a specific volume of water from 10 to 100 mLs on the tens. They simply measure the mass of an empty graduated cylinder and then add the water and find the mass again. Once they have their data they go around the room and find another group that has one of the volumes that they need and get the data from them and record their names. Once complete they generate a graph of the data and answer a few simple questions. The whole procedure can be completed in about 20 minutes.
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.
In Chemical Mystery #7, a can of Coca-Cola was observed to sink in one container of water and yet float in another! This trick made use of the fact that the density of water changes with temperature. See the video below.
Q: Does an unopened can of soda pop float or sink in water?
A: It depends!
See if you can figure out what is happening in this twist on the classic floating-and-sinking soda can experiment.