If you’ve ever enjoyed wearing a bottle of Diet Coke after dropping in a roll of Mentos, you know that the reaction is immediate. I’ve always thought that it would be cool if you could slow everything down and really look at the reaction. I shared the idea with our friends at Mentos and they shot this slow motion video. There are a few frames where you can see the carbon dioxide gas coming out of solution being attracted to the tiny pits (nucleation sites) on the surface of the mint. For the tech-nerds in the audience, a Phantom 9.0 high-speed digital camera from Vision Research (2,000 frames per second) captured the slow-motion footage.
Only a very cool teacher gives this kind of homework to her students… “Using only construction paper and tape, I want you to design a rocket.” Lisa Heaton, the Gifted and Talented teacher showed her students a specially designed rocket launcher made out of PVC plumbing parts from the local hardware store. The idea for the PVC rocket launcher comes from U.S. Space Camp for Educators curriculum. I had the privilege of assisting Mrs. Heaton with the launch of the paper rockets. As the students will share in the comments below, the first launch revealed their design strengths and flaws. The five students with the best launch served as mentors for the rest of the students as they returned to the classroom to repair and redesign their paper rockets. The second launch proved to be the real learning experience – be sure to read comments from the young rocketeers below.
“This rocket launch activity coincides with the students reading Rocket Boys (also known as October Sky) by Homer Hickam. I want these kids to experience first hand the feeling of failure and success through the trial and error process of building their own rockets… and this air-powered rocket launcher does the trick,” says Lisa Heaton as she turns to help a 5th grader repair a rocket that didn’t fair well during the first launch.
These 5th graders are also using this hands-on science experience to learn about the science of blogging (pun intended). Student bloggers from Mrs. Heaton’s class in past years posted blog comments about their rocket experience that were even read by Homer Hickam (the author of October Sky) himself. Be sure to read the student comments below.
Thousands of science teachers found their way to St. Louis for the 2007 National Science Teachers Association convention, and we wanted to make sure they had something to take back to their students. So, we loaded our trucks with experiments and products from the website along with 5,000 rolls of MENTOS stuffed into plastic test tubes and headed for the Gateway City. We were fortunate to have 14 teacher ambassadors from the Hands-on Science Institute join us in the booth to each share their favorite science activities. Aside from 500 bottles of Diet Coke and a mountain of MENTOS, all eyes were on the 18 foot tall soda eruption chamber. We were demonstrating the new Geyser Tube by triggering a MENTOS geyser as fast as we could set-up a launch (about every 2-3 minutes for 3 full days). At the end of the convention, the soda was gone, the rolls of MENTOS were in the hands of 5,000 teachers, the truck was cleaned out… and we all had a blast. It’s back to the classroom for the 14 ambassadors to start working on cool stuff for next year’s NSTA in Boston.
It’s great to get emails with this subject line… My science fair project placed 1st from an idea from your website! Grant Smith is a 4th grader at S&S Elementary in Sherman, Texas. The “S&S” two small towns, Southmayd and Sadler, are approximately one hour north of Dallas. Grant used our website as a resource to expand on the idea of the Growing Ivory Soap experiment. Here’s Grant’s email about his award…
Mr. Steve Spangler,
My 4th Grade Teacher has taught us many cool Science experiments from your website. I got on your website to give me an idea for my Science Fair Project. I proved that Ivory Soap has air inside of it by showing it floats and expanding it in the microwave. Last week I placed 1st in the 4th Grade that earned me the “Chief Scientist” Certificate. I am very proud of it. I wanted to tell you thank you for your cool website. My teacher loves going to your workshops and showing us your videos too. We learn a whole lot from your website, kits, and books. Thank you very much! Oh! I was also so excited when I ordered a Sonic WackyPack Meal and got your Science Book!!! I did all of the experiments in class for my teacher and classmates. I am so glad that I can purchase some of your science kit items at Hobby Lobby too. I love buying them and showing my friends! Thanks for all you do for kids and teachers. My teacher told me that I should tell you about winning the Science Fair Project with your idea on Ivory Soap. She said that you would be proud of me. I copied your Steve Spangler website logo and displayed it on my Science Fair Project Board to show where I got my information.
Great job Grant! We share these pictures with permission from Grant and his parents.