DIY Science: Sudsy Rainbow

Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab with a simple DIY science experiment that uses common household products! Don’t forget to use proper protective gear, like safety glasses!

Materials:

    • Large tub
    • Vinegar
    • Food Coloring
    • 1/4 cup baking soda
    • 1-2 Tbsps liquid dish soap (Dawn works very well)
    • 2-5 Empty cups

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Watch Educator Alison perform the experiment on YouTube: https://youtu.be/0yx_wdA4Ky8

Procedure:

  • Add 1/4 cup of baking soda in a cup and drizzle about 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap on top of the baking soda and give it a gentle shake. Place this cup in the center of your large tub.
  • Fill other cups with desired amounts of vinegar leaving room for food coloring and mixing. Remember, the more vinegar you use the more bubbles you will be able to make.
  • Add food coloring to each cup of vinegar and gently mix. The more food coloring you use, the more vibrant your suds will be.
  • Slowly pour each cup of vinegar and food coloring into the cup with the baking soda and soap. TIP: Hold the cup about 10-12 inches above the baking soda and soap cup to help the reagents mix.

What’s happening?

Vinegar is the household term for acetic acid. It is a chemical used in a great variety of applications. Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, is another chemical commonly used for its properties as a base. When the two are mixed you have an acid-base reaction! This chemical reaction results in three new substances, water, carbon dioxide, and sodium acetate. The dish soap captures the carbon dioxide produced during the reaction and forms a fabulous fountain of foam!

Stay-At-Home Science: DIY Play Dough

Here’s a great project that combines kitchen chemistry with art! Make your own play dough using items you already have in the pantry, then use your imagination to create a play dough masterpiece.

Are you a visual learner? Watch the process on our YouTube channel.

Play-Doh

play-doughMaterials:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • ¼ cup of salt
  • ¾ cup of boiling water
  • 3 tbs of lemon juice
  • 1 tbs of cooking oil
  • Food coloring, essential oil (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Remove 3 tbsp from your ¾ cup water and discard.
  3. Add oil, lemon juice, and optional food coloring and/or essential oil to water.
  4. Pour liquid into flour and salt mixture.
  5. Stir continuously until dough forms.

Note: when you’re done playing, store your play dough in an airtight container.

Let there be light!

Chemiluminescence Demo Video

Read on to learn about what’s happening in the video above:

Our scientist pours two solutions, labeled Solution A and Solution B, into two separate beakers (these solutions are respectively a Luminol mixture and Hydrogen Peroxide). [NOTE: Luminol is a “versatile” chemical that happens to be very good at demonstrating the turning of chemical potential energy into radiant, or light, energy.] He empties the two beakers into the tube apparatus, turns the lights off, then the magic happens as the solutions combine to make a glowing liquid! THIS is chemical potential energy turned radiant energy.

Some glowing “stuff” gets its light by way of a reaction called chemiluminescence. Chemiluminescent reactions are chemical reactions that yield light without producing much heat, which we think is pretty amazing. What else undergoes chemiluminescent reactions? To list a couple of common occurrences: fireflies and lightsticks.

Firefly

Firefly. Photo courtesy of nativeplantwildlifegarden.com

Why are we particularly excited about glowing stuff? Because Pajama Jam is almost upon us (tomorrow night), and there’s going to be a ton of glowing stuff there – glow-in-the-dark bowling, glow-in-the-dark ring toss, glow-in-the-dark bead necklaces, and more! AND now you know why these things can glow without burning us – they are undergoing chemical reactions which yield light with the production of very little heat…unlike, say, the light produced by a conventional lightbulb.

Tickets for Pajama Jam are available online here. We hope to see you there!