Monthly Archives: September 2016

Balloon Blow-Up

This week we had a blast learning about chemical reactions! Radost planned an awesome activity demonstrating the reaction between baking soda and vinegar. Overall, this is a great activity to show how mixing two substances (baking soda + vinegar) makes something new (CO2 gas!).

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First, we funneled vinegar into an empty water bottle. The girls got to dye the vinegar the color of their choice (because they love using food coloring!). It also allows the girls to individualize their experiments; make it their own. Next, we filled the balloons with baking soda using a smaller funnel. I was happy to see some innovation– folding a piece of paper to use as a funnel!

Finally, we attached the balloon to the top of the bottle and released the baking soda from the balloon into the vinegar, letting the balloon capture the CO2 gas. This activity is a great visual to demonstrate how new products are made in chemical reactions. We started with a liquid (vinegar) and a solid (baking soda). When we combine them, they make a gas (CO2), which fills up the balloon. Eventually, everyone was flipping over the bottles, letting the water flow from the bottle to the balloon– thankfully all of the balloons stayed securely on the bottles!

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We did the experiment again using the same bottle (i.e. not changing out the “vinegar”) to demonstrate that the vinegar had also changed in the chemical reaction. When the baking soda was dumped into the “already used vinegar”, no reaction occurred. This concept was more difficult to convey, but some of the older girls understood (while some of the younger girls were very disappointed by the lack of reaction!).

 

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Jello Earthquakes

Today we combined two fields of science: earth science & engineering. The girls were given the task to build a structure using marshmallows and toothpicks that could withstand an earthquake!

The structures were very creative! We have built structures in the past (e.g. bridges) and some of the girls remembered that the triangle is the strongest shape, which was great!

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After the girls completed their structures, they took them to the “shake table”, which was a jello-filled pan. Aurora shook the pan to simulate an earthquake! Most of the structures could withstand the shaking, but some fell!

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The girls learned that if the structures “have a big base”, it is less likely to fall. They also noticed that structures built with triangles could withstand shaking more than squares. Overall, it was a great activity to start the semester! It makes me very happy that the girls are applying what they learned from previous GSC activities to building the marshmallow structures!