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.

Science Craft – Water Color Tie Dye Pillows

Are you looking for a last minute crafty Christmas present? Or something to do over the long holiday break? How about making tie dye pillows that use a little science to create a beautiful masterpiece.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

Materials

 

We used pillows from IKEA for $3.99 each. You can also do this technique on pillow cases, towels, t-shirts, or any material that is 100% cotton. This activity won’t work on synthetic fabrics.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

ACTIVITY

Warning: Rubbing alcohol is very flammable and must be kept away from any open flames or heat. This experiment must be conducted in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors or in a room with open windows.  

You may want to start by practicing on a piece of scrap fabric or old t-shirt to experiment with color mixing and spreading.

1. Using the Sharpie markers, draw a design on your pillow. We drew our design straight onto the pillow and didn’t use a pillow case.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

2. Experiment with wider lines, dots, or abstracts. If you want a section to be one color, color it in closely or color more sparingly for a different result.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

This is a good step for an adult helper. Kids about 5 and up can drop the alcohol (and will want to) but they may need a little guidance to make sure they don’t drown the pillow. They may also pick up some of the ink if they place their hand or fingers on the wet fabric. Sharpie pen will come off skin using a cotton ball and a little rubbing alcohol.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

 

3. Sparingly drop the rubbing alcohol on the fabric. The alcohol will spread the ink and mix the colors. Go slowly and don’t use much at first. Watch the alcohol spread the ink. It may take several minutes before the ink has stopped spreading. Don’t over saturate your fabric.

4. Experiment with drops of the rubbing alcohol – what happens when you drop it sparingly around your pillow and what happens when you place the drops close together?

5. Let air dry if it’s really wet and then place damp pillow in the dryer to set the colors.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

TAKE IT FURTHER!

Enjoy experimenting with various patterns, dot sizes, and color combinations. Instead of using dots, try drawing a small square with each side being a different color, or use primary colors to draw a geometric shape and accent it with dots of secondary colors. Half circles, wavy lines, and polygons all make unique patterns when rubbing alcohol travels across the ink. Your designs are only limited by your imagination. Try as many different patterns as you like.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

HOW DOES IT WORK?

This is really a lesson in the concepts of solubility, color mixing, and the movement of molecules. The Sharpie markers contain permanent ink, which will not wash away with water. Permanent ink is hydrophobic, meaning it is not soluble in water. However, the molecules of ink are soluble in another solvent called rubbing alcohol. This solvent carries the different colors of ink with it as it spreads in a circular pattern from the center of the shirt.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

ADDITIONAL INFO

Reference: The original Sharpie Pen activity is the creation of Bob Becker, a chemistry teacher in Kirkwood, Missouri.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | 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!