If you are looking for ideas to create an authentic opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of gas laws while integrating some of the most important science practices, then this activity may fit your needs.
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 can sometimes struggle to grasp gas behavior, as it’s much harder to visualize gases rather than readily available solutions, solids, or mixtures. Indeed, for many labs, if gas is a product, we’re often relegated to using balloons or gas columns to capture and measure the gases produced by reactions, which can be tricky or expensive. So this year, I tried something a little different when starting my intro chemistry students’ gas laws unit, and was very happy with the results.
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.
I have always been intrigued by the story of the Hindenburg, the iconic airship that caught fire on May 6, 1937. The accident killed 35 of the 100 passengers and crewmembers on board. As a chemistry teacher, I discuss this from a chemical standpoint and the fact that the airship was filled with hydrogen, a flammable gas, rather than helium, a non-flammable gas, as today’s modern airships are.
Build a propane gun for your students! Construction is inexpensive, easy, and the effects are spectacular.