Field Trip for Science

What a way to spend the last day of the school year!

If I didn’t know any better, I would thought we were on the Magic School Bus on one of Miss Frizzle’s famous field trips. However, we were three classes of 2nd graders on a trip to a university for some chemistry experiments and demonstrations. There’s no other way to get kids wickedly excited about science than making fireballs and playing with liquid nitrogen.

I wish I knew what the university students were using to create the effects they made. The first experiment was hands on for the 2nd graders. They were given a stir plate and a beaker half full of water. They dropped in a small cylindrical magnet, turned on the spin plate and the cylindrical magnet spun (being attracted to the magnet inside in the spin plate)

Anyway, the kids just loved making tornadoes in the water, nevermind the science experiment! Then a miniscule amount of power was put into the water and the water turned a purplish pink color. The kids were amazed all over again. They were then told put in some drops of clear fluid and the water became clear again.

clear waterpink water orange water

Those three pictures are with the same beaker of water. It piqued my interest!

After this fun, little experiment they made goop with borax. I’m not sure what else was used but it was all in liquid form. After it was combined and then mixed on the stir plate it turned to slime.

The next demonstration was done in the dark. The chemist put a bit of a flammable power in the mouth of a funnel then attached a rubber hose to it. A good puff on the hose sent the powder flying over the flame of a small candle creating a decent sized fireball. I’m sure the oohs and ahhs could be heard across the entire campus!

Then came the fun part. The chemists brought out the bottle of liquid nitrogen. Nitrogen liquifies at about -200 C. I was excited for this as these demonstrations are always fun. First she put a balloon the nitrogen and it shrunk down to nearly an uninflated state only to reinflate itself when brought out and warmed up again. Then she put in a helium balloon and nothing happened. Helium doesn’t liquify until about -270 degrees C. Then she gave every student a maple leaf. One at a time she dipped their leaf in the nitrogen and the students got to crush their leaves. The shattered like dry, October leaves. Except these were still green (albeit frozen to -200). Crash was the one who didn’t want to crush his. He wanted to know what would happen if he let it thaw. (Note: It simply returned to its original state)

note the slightly improper use of his goggles which I didn't notice until tonight when I looked at the pictures

note the slightly improper use of his goggles which I didn’t notice until tonight when I looked at the pictures

Lastly, she asked the class what would happen if you tried to hammer a nail with a banana. The kids laughed. The banana would become nothing but mush, of course. Then she put a banana in the nitrogen and put on an oven mitt. After she retrieved the now frozen banana she proceeded to hammer a nail into a piece of wood.

banana hammer

Favorite fact I learned today: Hotdogs conduct electricity because of all the salt in them.

The final demonstration was pretty neat too. I must say, I was a bit jealous I didn’t get to participate in this one. I’m sure if I would have asked, they would have given me one. Oh well. Anyway, they put a toothpick into a marshmallow and dipped it in the liquid nitrogen. Then gave it to the kids to eat! Each kid got their own frozen marshmallow, of course. My first reaction was “You’re going let them eat what? Is that safe?” My second reaction was “Oh, it’ just nitrogen. It’s in the air we breathe and food we eat. Chill out, it’s safe”.

frozen marshmallow

You can’t see it, but there’s nitrogen evaporating off his marshmallow

Upon leaving the university Crash told me he wants a chemistry set for his birthday because he loves chemistry. However, he also told me that he wants a science book to read on his tablet. When I showed him the one about space and the planets that he already has he told me “No, that’s not science”. So, I guess chemistry is only science there is!