November 06, 2007

The Magic of Chemistry

This past weekend Amanda and I attended a Magic of Chemistry workshop at a local university, sponsored by the Girl Scouts. We had a great time!

The day started at 9 a.m. with an introduction by one of the professors. Then at 9:30 we headed off to our first "class"...Tye Dyeing! Yep...Amanda was able to tye dye her very own t-shirt. While that was a lot of fun, the purpose was to understand how tye dye works...why you have to use certain fabrics. To show this they used a swatch of cloth that included various fabrics (rayon, polyester, silk, cotton, etc...) and dipped it in the exact same dye (it was one piece of cloth with all these fabrics, dipped in one beaker of the same dye). They were able to see how each type of fabric reacted to the dye differently. For example, the silk fabric turned gray, the cotton fabric turned purple, etc... Pretty neat!

Next we headed off to learn about the PH levels of certain household products. The kids learned what an acid and a base was, what the PH of each solution was, and whether that solution was an acid or a base. They tested such products as bleach, Borax, baking soda, milk, lemon juice, Sprite, etc... They also got to write a secret message using a clear wax crayon on gold indicator paper. They could then spray the paper with Windex or 409 and read the message. Way cool!

After that we headed down to the dining hall for lunch (generously provided for us by one of the labs). I've not eaten in a college dining hall for quite some time, and the one I did eat at was nothing compared to this. I really tried to talk Amanda into attending this college just for the food! (Actually I'm trying to talk her into attending this school for lots of reasons, none of which, until this weekend, involved the food! It's a GREAT school!)

With our bellies full of yummy, yummy food we headed back to the Chemistry building for more fun. Our first stop...M & M Chromotography. Yep...we got to separate the colors out of M&Ms! What a blast that was! All the girls had a great time watching a brown M&M separate into reds, yellows, blues, etc...

Our last stop was back to testing PH levels...but this time changing them by adding red cabbage indicator. They got to retest some of the same products they tested earlier, then add red cabbage indicator to them and see if the PH levels changed (some did!). They also got to take an unknown substance and perform all the tests to see if they could determine what the substance was. Some got it right...some cheated and got it right (smelled the bottle...a big NO NO in a chemistry lab!)...some were way off! Amanda was close...but not exact. The unknown substance was orange juice and she guessed lemon juice.

The day finally ended at 2:30...a full day of Chemistry! We had a great time and learned a lot in the process. They do these every year and we'll be sure to sign up for next year. What fun!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that was pretty impressive. My boys would love to do something like that. I wish they did that around here. It's amazing how "hands on" things are for kids now a days.