I’ve always liked putting on a show and, given the fact that Easter is fast approaching and I will be spending some time with my nieces and nephews, I’ve been thinking about learning a few cool physics experiments that I could use to show them how fun science can be. And, because I like sharing my discoveries with you, I decided to make a blog entry about it, as it may come in handy to some of you too.
The Egg and the Bottle is a classic, easy to master, experiment that I’m sure you’ve all seen by now. To conduct this experiment, you need a glass bottle whose neck is wide, but not wide enough for an egg to go through, an old milk bottle is the best fit, a sheet of paper, a lighter, and a hard-boiled egg. Then, once you have gathered all your materials, the first step you need to make is to fold the paper so that it fits the bottle. Then, you set it on fire and drop it in the bottle. As it burns, place the egg on the bottleneck and watch the magic in action. Due to the burning process, the molecules of air in the bottle move away from each other, and some even escape the bottle. When the flame goes off, the partial vacuum effect happens, and air molecules from outside the bottle are sucked inside. However, because the egg is in the way, the pressure vacuums it inside also.
The diet coke and mentos mix is another fun experiment you could try. For this one, take your audience outdoors because it will get messy. To make the fountain happen, just drop a peppermint flavored candy in the soda bottle, and the result will follow. As scientists explain, the resulting jet is a simple reaction. Because mentos have many small pits that provide a place where monoxide bubbles can form and then escape. Or, as scientists call it, the nucleation of bubbles in supersaturated solutions.
Is your audience fascinated with tornadoes? Why not teach them to create their miniature tornado in a bottle! To make this possible, just fill a half a liter bottle with water, add some drops of soap and, for the young ladies, some glitter. Then, stir the bottle around to form a cyclone. The miniature whirlpool is a great depiction of how a wind vortex looks from up-close. To make things even more eye-catching, you could combine the experiment with a fun video about tornados. I suggest you play them a video that it is child-appropriate while still informative.
So, give these cool experiments a try and let me know about how it went and how the small ones reacted to them.