Category Archives: Sick Science Experiments

Valentines Science – Frozen Baking Soda and Vinegar Hearts

Baking soda and vinegar experiments begin with the classic science fair volcano and end with homemade rockets. It’s not surprising – this reaction creates bubbly, fizzing potions that are fun to create over and over.

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

We decided to put a Valentines twist on the baking soda and vinegar experiment and try it with frozen hearts.

The best part? Even though this experiment stinks from all the vinegar, it’s safe to touch.

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

Materials

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Heart shape bowl, ice forms or cookie sheet molds
  • Spoon
  • Bowl or plate

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

Let’s Try it! 

(Measurements aren’t exact and will depend on size of mold. Proportions are more important)
1. Combine 3/4 vinegar to 1/4 water in heart shaped mold and freeze.
2. Combine 3/4 baking soda to 1/4 water in heart shaped mold and freeze.
3. Place frozen vinegar heart in 3/4 baking soda and 1/4 water solution.
4. Place frozen baking soda heart in pure vinegar bath.

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

We found the frozen baking soda hearts fizzed and reacted much more than the frozen vinegar hearts.

The Science Behind the Reaction

The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) reaction actually occurs in two steps.

First, the acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the sodium bicarbonate to make sodium acetate and carbonic acid. The carbonic acid is unstable and basically decomposes in a reaction that produces carbon dioxide gas. The CO2 gas escapes as bubbles. These bubbles are heavier than air, so they sink or run over the plate edge, versus taking flight.

Some people add dish soap to this reaction to capture the bubbles and help the solution flow. Try adding a squirt or two of dish detergent on top of your heart and see if anything different happens.

Or try different proportions of vinegar, water and baking soda. What are your results?

Fizzing Baking Soda and Vinegar Valentines Hearts | Sick Science Steve Spangler Science

Thanks to Inspiration Laboratories where we found this original idea.

Scientific Super Bowl Predictions Using Chemistry

Who will win the Super Bowl on Sunday?

The big game is this weekend and everyone has their prediction of the winner. Our Steve Spangler went into the laboratory to find a scientific way to predict the outcome.

Scientific Super Bowl Predictions with Chemistry. Who will win the Super Bowl? | Steve Spangler Science

Steve began his predictions by using a classic Clock Reaction to tell how the Seattle Seahawks will perform – black with doom and destruction.

Continue reading

The Science Behind the 9News Broncos Clingy Thingy

Kirk Montgomery and our friends at 9News here in Denver have created a whirlwind of excitement over the Broncos amazing season with Clingy Thingys – United in Orange. Fans in Denver can’t get their hands on them fast enough.

The Science Behind the 9News Denver Broncos United in Orange Clingy Thingy

So that left us to answer the question – how does the Clingy Thingy work?

The Clingy Thingy does not use adhesive to attach to glass or plastic so it isn’t permanent. The “thingy” attaches using static electricity. Similar to the way your hair sticks to a balloon.

Static electricity involves extra electrons. When you rub a balloon on someone’s hair, the balloon picks up electrons, leaving it negatively charged and the hair positively charged. Opposites attract, so the balloon will stick to the hair, or cause the hair to stand up if the balloon is held above the hair.

When you bring a charged balloon near pieces of paper, the paper isn’t charged so you might expect nothing to happen. But the paper is attracted to the balloon. Why? The negative charge on the balloon repels the electrons in the paper, making them (on average) farther from the balloon’s charge than are the positive charges in the paper. Because electrical forces decrease in strength with distance, the attraction between the negatives and positives is stronger than the repulsion between the negatives and negatives. This leads to an overall attraction. The paper is said to have an induced charge. This explanation applies to a charged balloon sticking to a wall and a charged balloon attracting other uncharged objects.

Moisture and dirt will kill the attachment so if you are trying to stick it to a car window, wipe away any condensation or dirt with a cloth before trying to stick it.

3 Things You Can Do with Your Clingy Thingy

Here are a few ways to display your Clingy Thingy in the name of science.

Tornado Tube

There will be a tornado of orange at Sports Authority Field this Sunday as the Broncos beat the New England Patriots. Stick your Clingy Thingy to a clean plastic soda bottle (upside down), fill that bottle about 3/4 full with water. Then attach a Tornado Tube to the top and another soda bottle to the bottom. Watch the message be revealed as the water swirls down to the bottom bottle.

Tornado Tube - The Science Behind the 9News Denver Broncos United in Orange Clingy Thingy

Make the Message Appear

Place your Clingy Thingy face up under a clear dish or pie pan. Fill the pan with Water Balls.  The message will disappear because the water balls will refract the light. Pour water slowly into the dish. As the balls disappear, the message will appear. You’ve changed the refraction to reveal United in Orange!

Revealing a secret message with Water Balls - The Science Behind the 9News Denver Broncos United in Orange Clingy Thingy

 

What We Will Do to the Patriots Sunday

The Broncos will be on fire and light up the field. They will burn the Patriots.
(Don’t try this demonstration at home).

The Science Behind the 9News Denver Broncos United in Orange Clingy Thingy

 Follow 9News Facebook page for updates on where they will be to hand out the Clingy Thingys.

Boiling Water Turns Into Snow in Subzero Temps a Hoax

As two-thirds of the country is gripped in the clutches of a Polar Vortex, many are spending time outside in the cold trying to create instant snow.

Throwing Hot Water into Freezing Air Does Not Create Instant Snow - It's a Hoax | Steve Spangler Science

Internet videos and stories are telling people to head outdoors in the subzero temps with a pot of boiling water. They claim when you throw the hot water into the freezing air, the result will be instant snowfall.

We hate to burst your frozen bubbles everyone, but this is a hoax. When you throw hot water into cold air, you do get a cool reaction of water vapor and condensation, but you don’t get snowflakes. Only some of the hot water will condensate, but most of it will fall back down to the ground. Many people have been burned after throwing hot water above their head and having it fall down on top of them.

If you want to try this on a safer, smaller scale, you will get the same result from placing a steaming cup of hot coffee in the freezer.

While the reaction of throwing the hot water into the cold air is pretty dramatic, it isn’t creating snowfall. Snowflakes are created when a water droplet attaches to a piece of dirt or dust in a cloud. The hot water droplets don’t have time to attach to anything before they fall back to earth.

If you are in the areas with extreme cold and want to use your scientific skills to experiment and learn, here are a few safe experiments to try. And remember, don’t stay outside very long. It doesn’t take a lot of time for skin to freeze or frostbite to set in. Go out in small bursts and get back where it’s warm.

 Throwing boiling water into freezing air during the Polar Vortex to make instant snow is a HOAX | Steve Spangler Science

Christmas Science Craft – Insta-Snow Globe Jar

Are you looking for a quick, easy and unique decoration to brighten up your home or give as a gift?

Make a festive Insta-Snow Globe jar.

Insta-Snow Globe Holiday Decoration | Steve Spangler Science

Materials

  • 4-5 scoops of Insta-Snow powder (depending on the size of your jar)
  • Jar with a lid (a wider, shorter one works best)
  • Miniature decorations
  • Candle or flameless candle (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional)
  • Water

Insta-Snow Globe Holiday Decoration | Steve Spangler Science

Activity

1. Scoop Insta-Snow powder into a clean jar.

Insta-Snow Globe Holiday Decoration | Steve Spangler Science

2. Add water until Insta-Snow is fluffy but not over-saturated and gelatin-like.

3. Fluff and mix the snow with your hand to mix water and powder completely.

Insta-Snow Globe Holiday Decoration | Steve Spangler Science

4. Decorate by adding miniature trees, people and other holiday decorations.

5. Glue ribbon around lid and place on top of jar.

We used a tiny Santa, tree and snowman from a Christmas village set. Get creative – make people out of baked clay, foam stickers, Legos, Pom Pom people or branches and pine cones from your backyard.

Closing the lid on the jar keeps the snow fresh and wet. You won’t need to re-hydrate it. If you decide to leave the lid off the top, you will want to spritz the Insta-Snow with water every few days to keep it moist.

One more thing, because the Insta-Snow is wet and will keep the jar humid, if you decide to use a flameless candle do not leave it in the jar. Remove it when it’s not in use or the batteries and switch may rust.

We found this originally on All for the Boys and their post Interactive Snowscape. They use sugar for the snow, but we swapped the sugar for our Insta-Snow. Thanks for the great idea!