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Chemical Circus

As part of some courses in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, students participate in service learning. Service learning involves activities that serve the department, university, and/or community while meeting the learning outcomes for the course. Many of these service learning projects involve developing chemistry activities or demonstrations and conducting these activities or demonstrations with the local community, which we call the Chemical Circus.

If you are interested in having the Chemical Circus come to your school, after school program, or other community event contact Dr. Dani Solano (

Funding for this program has been provided by:

The following is a list of some of the activities and demonstrations that have been developed by students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Activities indicated with an asterisk (*) should only be performed by teachers or others who have the experience/expertise to perform these activities safely.

Air Pressure Balloon Jar
Fire needs oxygen to burn. Without oxygen, the fire will go out. In this experiment you will learn how to suck a balloon into a jar with fire and oxygen. When the balloon is first set on top of the jar the air pressure inside and outside of the jar are the same. But what will happen when there is a difference between the air pressure inside and outside of the jar; what will happen to the balloon?

Air Pressure Sponge
Air is everywhere. It can be hard to understand that spaces are filled with air and that air has a force that can move objects of different sizes. However, this force is limited so some objects may move and others may not.

Air Takes Up Space
Most of us have submerged a container upside-down in water and discovered that it does not fill with water. What is preventing the water from getting in? The air inside the container takes up space and with the only opening being on the bottom, the air has no way of getting out. But what happens if you provide another way for the air to escape?

Alcohol Jet Engine*
Isopropyl alcohol has many different uses in our lives. For example, it serves as a solvent and cleaning fluid for oil based compounds, a disinfectant in medicine, and is a way of preserving biological material. However, this experiment focuses on isopropyl alcohol’s vaporization properties. The vapor is naturally denser than air and is flammable with a combustible range between 2% and 12% in air. By mixing the vapor with the air inside of a 5 gallon water jug, a combustible chamber is produced that can be ignited in a controlled burst. This chemical reaction creates a rocket engine effect, which shoots a flame out of the opening of the container, while continuing to burn up the vapor-air mixture. 

Alum, Borax, and Epson Salt Egg Geodes
Learn about the process of crystallization by creating these beautiful geodes!  In this experiment, you will create crystals from different minerals using super saturated solutions. You will observe that different minerals create different shaped and sized crystals dependent on saturation and cooling rate.

Aluminum Circuit
Circuits carry electric current when they are in a closed loop, and can act differently depending on the physical set up of the circuit. Current, which is the flow of electrons in a circuit, can be carried through wires, barriers, and any other functional pieces of circuits, like lights.

Anti-Gravity Rice
Imagine picking up thousands of grains of rice by just picking up one pencil. In this experiment, you pour uncooked rice into a dry bottle, leaving a few inches empty at the top of the bottle. If you repeatedly jab a pencil into the rice in the bottle eventually the bottle will lift with the pencil. 

Anti-Gravity Water
In this experiment you will defy gravity! When the glass of water is turned over, the water does not fall out because the weight of the water increases the volume of the air in the glass which creates a vacuuming effect. The water molecules also bond together creating surface tension. 

Bacteria Inhibitors
Bacteria live everywhere, including on our hands from touching various objects and surfaces throughout the day. Bacteria can cause many infections and illnesses if we do not wash our hands before doing certain activities. We know that bacteria are easily transferred and scientists have discovered various ways to kill bacteria and inhibit their growth. This experiment will investigate several different solutions and their ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Balloon Skewer
Have you ever tried to push a sharp object through a balloon? It most likely popped, right? Well this experiment will show you how to push a skewer through a balloon without popping it. The rubber of the balloon is made of many long strands or chains of molecules called polymers. The elasticity of these polymer chains causes rubber to stretch. Blowing up the balloon stretches the strands of polymers. By piercing the balloon through the point where the polymer molecules were stretched out the least, these polymer molecules stretch around the skewer and kept the air inside the balloon from rushing out. By pushing the lubricated skewer through the part of the balloon were the latex molecules are under the least amount of stress (where you tied the knot and the opposite end), you prevent the balloon from exploding.

Balloon Powered Car
How can you power a car without using fuel or electricity? Well, one way to do this would be by using the stored energy in a balloon that is blown up.

Battery that makes Cents
Batteries are simple yet important part of people’s lives. All forms of electricity used by man revolve around the use of batteries. However, not many people know how batteries work. A simple battery can be made with everyday household items.

Bend Honey
In this experiment you will be demonstrating how molecules can be charged. The static electricity built up by rubbing your hair against a balloon attracts a stream of honey, bending it towards the balloon like magic! Negatively charged particles called electrons jump from your hair to the balloon as they rub together, the balloon now has extra electrons and is negatively charged. The honey features both positive and negatively charged particles and is neutral. Positive and negative charges are attracted to each other so when you move the negatively charged balloon towards the stream, it attracts the honey's positively charged particles and the stream bends!  

Best Electrolytic Drinks
Have you ever wanted to know how much voltage is really in your drink? Well you’ve come to the right place! In this experiment you will be calculating the electrolytic content contained within your beverage. Electrolytes help with the cardiovascular and nervous system. Most energy drinks can be categorized into cations or anions which helps determine how electrolytic they truly are.

Blow Up Balloon
Have you ever blown up a balloon without using your mouth? This magical experiment involves the reaction of acetic acid and sodium bicarbonate to form a salt, water, and a gas called carbon dioxide. The gaseous carbon dioxide will be captured in a balloon. When the gases enters the balloon it will expand, while you just stand back and watch it happen! The reaction between sodium bicarbonate found in baking soda and acetic acid found in vinegar will release enough carbon dioxide to blow up a medium sized balloon.

Blue Goo
This blue goo or Oobleck is a Non-Newtonian fluid. That is, it acts like a liquid when being poured, but like a solid when a force is acting on it. You can grab it and then it will ooze out of your hands. Oobleck gets its name from the Dr. Seuss book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Where a gooey green substance, Oobleck, fell from the sky and wrecked havoc in the kingdom. Here the Oobleck will be made in a bowl and will likely make a mess, but only because you can get carried away playing with it. 

Bouncy Egg
Have you ever tried to bounce and egg? In this experiment, you will be able to bounce an egg by placing it in vinegar. Vinegar has an acid called acetic acid. Acetic acid is an acid that reacts with the high calcium content of the eggshell causing it to dissolve

Briggs-Rauscher Oscillating Color Change Reaction*
The Briggs-Rauscher reaction, also known as 'the oscillating clock, is one of the most common demonstrations of a chemical oscillator reaction. The reaction begins when three colorless solutions are mixed together. The color of the resulting mixture will oscillate between clear, amber, and deep purple for about 3-5 minutes. The solution ends up as a purple-black mixture. 

Burn Peanuts Burn
The ability to retain heat energy is called that material’s heat capacity. Specific heat is the amount of heat per unit mass required to raise the temperature by one degree Celsius. If different food samples have a certain mass at the beginning and are then heated to the same temperature will the final temperature of the each mixture be the same? This experiment will help us understand the capacity in each food.

Buoyant Bubble
Have you ever seen a bubble floating in the middle of a fluid? Well here is your chance. In this experiment you will create your own buoyant bubble that floats somewhere in the middle of the bottle.

Camera Obscura
The camera obscura, also known as the pinhole camera, has been in use for many centuries. The term “camera obscura” is Latin for “dark room,” as it originated as a dark room with a small hole in the wall. This hole would allow outside light to pass through, projecting an upside-down image on the opposite wall. Light travels in straight lines called rays. When these rays reflect off of an object, they reflect in all directions. Only those rays reflecting at the angles necessary to pass through the hole are able to reach the wall and create the image. In this activity, a coffee can will act as the “room” and wax paper as the “opposite wall.”

Candy Chromatography
This is the process that separates the primary colors of skittles that makes up the secondary colors in each piece of candy. 

Capillary Action Bridge
Water can certainly move in mysterious ways, get the water from one cup to flow from one cup to a second empty cup with the help of paper towels and an interesting scientific process. You can demonstrate capillary action using only two clear cups and water. 

Cellular Respiration with Yeast
Have you ever wondered how the “holes” in bread are made? Yeast makes tiny gas bubbles in our in bread before it gets baked. This experiment demonstrates cellular respiration when the yeast consumes the sugar and releases carbon dioxide.

Chemical Chameleon*
Thie experiment is a bright and colorful way to demonstrate the properties of an oxidation-reduction reaction. When a tiny amount of potassium permanganate reacts with sugar and sodium hydroxide (commonly used for soap making), multiple reactions occur within a minute. The rapid chemical reactions create vibrant colors that can be observed by students.

Chemical Garden
In this experiment you will make a Chemical Garden or Crystal Garden. You will explore Chemistry by observing the cause and effect of adding different metal salts in a solution which lets the rocks/salts grow into magical-looking chemical towers within a day. The different types of salts grow in diverse ways and you will be able to see how they are affected, and additionally you will learn the properties that these metals possess.

Cobalt Demo*
This demo illustrates several phenomena associated with the binding of ligands to the cobalt (II) ion. Firstly, Co(II) is a kinetically labile ion. That is, the positioning of the electrons allows for some repulsion of the ligands. In the complex, water is a somewhat stronger ligand than chloride ion, but their positions can be altered by such manipulations as (1) increasing the concentration of chloride with concentrated HCl, (2) adding more water, (3) adding ethanol. The ethanol changes the polarity of the solvent system and forces the chloride to coordinate more closely with the cobalt. Furthermore, an aqueous solution of cobalt (II) chloride that has been treated with just sufficient HCl as to be purple can be immersed in 50-55 oC H2O and the color will change to blue. This indicates that the association of the chloride ions with the cobalt is also influenced by an endothermic equilibrium. 

Colored Capillary Celery
Everyone knows that plants need water to survive, but ever wonder how this process advances? Celery is a great example to show how this process actually works. With the help of food coloring we can see how advanced plants are.

Colorful Carnations
Have you ever wanted a multicolored flower where you can choose the colors? In this experiment you will learn the structure of plants and learn how water is absorbed. By adding food coloring, you will see that water travels through the roots, up the stem, and is absorbed through the petals. By the end of the experiment you will see the change in color of the flower petals.

Colorful Convection Currents
What is convection? Weather forecasters show how convection currents are formed when warm and cold air masses meet in the atmosphere. Convection currents are responsible for warm water currents that occur in oceans. Does the placement of the hot and cold water determine how they will mix?

Copper Plated Nails
In this experiment we will use white vinegar and pennies to coat a steel nail with copper.The copper that coats the nail/screw comes from the pennies. However, it exists in the salt/vinegar solution as positively charged copper ions as opposed to neutral copper metal. Nails and screws are made of steel, an alloy primarily composed of iron. The salt/vinegar solution dissolves some of the iron and its oxides on the surface of the nail, leaving a negative charge on the surface of the nail. Opposite charges attract, but the copper ions are more strongly attracted to the nail than the iron ions, so a copper coating forms on the nail.

Copper Sulfate Crystals*
Copper sulfate crystals have many practical applications such as it is used as a herbicide, fungicide, and pesticide. Perhaps the most prevalent use of copper sulfate is it is used in swimming pools as an algicide. It is also used to treat aquarium fish for parasitic infections. But in our case we are going to use them to make big crystal that can be seen as a precious rock.

Crystal Snowflake
With a few ingredients that are easily accessible, crystals can be easily created to make artistic creations. Borax (sodium borate) is most commonly found in the form of a white powder that is made up of crystals that dissolve in water easily. Warmer water has molecules that are more spread apart which allows for more borax to be dissolved in the water, thus, making a supersaturated solution. As the water begins to cool, the water molecules begin to move closer together being unable to hold as much borax as when it was warmer. Crystals begin to form on top of one another as the water begins to cool down.

Magic Color Breakdown Chromatography
How many colors make up the marker that you use? You may think that your black marker is only black, but with this experiment you will be able to extract the different colors that make up the color of your marker. With a salt water solution the colors are more likely to stick to the paper as it travels along with the water. The water does not have enough room in its molecules for the color to be absorbed, thus, the color not fading out as it travels along the paper. 

Copper Sulfate*
Copper sulfate crystals have many practical applications such as it is used as a herbicide, fungicide, and pesticide. Perhaps the most prevalent use of copper sulfate is it is used in swimming pools as an algicide. It is also used to treat aquarium fish for parasitic infections. But in our case we are going to use them to make big crystal that can be seen as a precious rock. 

Dancing Raisins
What do you think would make a raisin dance? Would it be the music or something else? Well this experiment is going to describe how to make a raisin dance! 

Density Column
Have you ever put two different liquids together and observed how they mix together? Have you ever seen what happens when you mix oil and water? Most of you probably know that oil and water do not mix together, but do you know why? Today, we will learn about density, which is the reason why many liquids and other materials stay separated when you try to mix them. 

Detecting Bodily Fluids*
Have you ever wondered how clean your surroundings really are? Grab a blacklight and some darkness and see the bodily fluids come alive! A blacklight is essentially a normal fluorescent light tube with the white coating removed and a purple coating added. The white coating contains phosphorous and the light emitted in the tube causes phosphorous to glow giving off visible light. The purple coating blocks all visible light, but allows a harmless, non-visible ultraviolet light (UVA) to escape. The UVA will cause anything with phosphorous to glow. Since our bodily fluids are filled with various kinds of phosphorous, they glow! Test things such as cleaning agents to see if they glow and also try different bodily fluids such as sweat and saliva. 

Dissolving Cups
How many cups can you stack without them falling over? Ten, fifteen? More? Well, do you think you can stack as many cups while they’re melting? Styrofoam cups dissolve when they’re placed in acetone because Styrofoam is made up of molecules, called polymers. Acetone loosens these molecules up so that they no longer hold the air. Once this happens the Styrofoam no longer stays solid, and melts into goop! 

DIY Thermometer
Have you ever wondered how thermometers work? Most thermometers contain alcohol (old ones may contain toxic mercury). As the temperature of the alcohol increases, it expands and causes the level to rise. The level of the alcohol corresponds to printed numbers indicating the temperature. You can create your own thermometer to demonstrate the effects of heat on the expansion of alcohol.

DNA Extraction From Wheat Germ*
Wheat germ is the DNA source in this protocol. Wheat germ comes from wheat seeds. The "germ" is the embryo, which is the part of the seed that can grow into a new wheat plant. When wheat seeds are milled into white flour, the wheat germ and wheat bran are removed, leaving only starch. 

Don't Smoke At A Gas Station*
This experiment is to show why there is no smoking in a gas station and why you have to be aware of static electricity. The gasoline fumes are highly flammable and when the spark is created... it blows.

Easy Lava Lamps
This easy-to-make “lava lamp” demonstrates the hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties of water and oil in a visual presentation reminiscent of the classic lava lamp! 

Egg Drop
Will an egg fall onto your counter and break if placed on top of a toilet paper tube that is on a flat surface above a cup of water? Test Newton’s Law of Inertia- and your personal trust skills- with this simple and easy to set up experiment.

Egg Osmosis
In the egg osmosis lab we are going to use the egg as our cell. We will be submerging the eggs in vinegar to dissolve the shells off of the eggs. Once the shells dissolve we will be left with translucent cells. But wait! If the shell of the egg is gone then what will hold the egg together? While the shell does provide support and protection for the egg, it is not the only factor contributing to the protection and structure of the egg. The cell’s semipermeable membrane controls what enters and exits the cell. The process in which the membrane allows certain nutrients and toxins to enter or leave the cell is called osmosis. The membrane is in charge of getting rid of any wastes and toxins; it also provides structure and protection for the cell. Once the shell is gone we will test the cell membrane by placing the shell-less eggs in different solutions (corn syrup, salt water, and water). We will watch the cell membrane in action and observe how it allows certain liquids to diffuse through its semi permeable layer.

Electrolysis of Water
Combustible fuels are in limited supply on planet Earth. Fossil fuels will become more and more expensive and will one day be completely used up. Synthetic fuels like ethanol require a substantial input of resources to create. Alternative power sources like solar or wind will never be viable alternatives as they are highly inefficient. The world needs sensible fuel alternatives. Water is an abundant resource. Salt water, fresh water and even ice contain two highly combustible elements:oxygen and hydrogen. Fortunately for use, these two elements are bonded together very tightly in the water molecule or else we would be surrounded by highly combustible gases! If we can find safe and effective ways to split them apart (electrolysis) and collect them for fuel, we can solve our future fuel issues. This experiment seeks to help us understand how easy it can be to split the water molecule into its two constituents and collect the two gases separately.

Elephant Toothpaste
Hey kids! Today you get to make a cool explosion happen that looks like toothpaste an elephant would use. For this simple reaction, we will mix hydrogen peroxide and liquid soap. Then, we will add a catalyst to the mixture. This will help speed up the reaction by making hydrogen peroxide turn into oxygen and water. The water will then mix with the soap and makes foam, while the oxygen builds up pressure and pushes it out of the container. You will see foam shooting out like fireworks in a color of your choice! 

Under normal conditions, there are certain liquids that just do not mix. For example, oil and vinegar are two liquids that repel each other due to differences in polarity and density. However, with the assistance of a substance known as an emulsifier, it is possible to force them to mix!

Exercise and Celluar Respiration
Cellular respiration is a chemical reaction that occurs in your cells to create energy; when you are exercising your muscle cells are creating ATP to contract. Cellular respiration requires oxygen (which is breathed in) and creates carbon dioxide (which is breathed out).This lab will address how exercise (increased muscle activity) affects the rate of cellular respiration. You will measure 3 different indicators of cellular respiration: breathing rate, heart rate, and carbon dioxide production. You will measure these indicators at rest (with no exercise) and after 1 and 2 minutes of exercise. Breathing rate is measured in breaths per minute, heart rate in beats per minute, and carbon dioxide in the time it takes bromothymol blue to change color. Carbon dioxide production can be measured by breathing through a straw into a solution of bromothymol blue (BTB). BTB is an acid indicator; when it reacts with acid it turns from blue to yellow. When carbon dioxide reacts with water, a weak acid (carbonic acid) is formed. The more carbon dioxide you breathe into the BTB solution, the faster it will change color to yellow. The purpose of this lab activity is to analyze the effect of exercise on cellular respiration.

Expanding Soap
In this experiment we are going to have some fun while demonstrating how the heating of water inside a bar of Ivory Soap can cause a chemical reaction that results in the expansion of the soap.

Exploding Gummy Bears*
In this experiment, a demonstration of a spontaneous exothermic reaction will take place between a gummy bear and molten potassium chlorate. Once the potassium chlorate has been melted in a test tube, a gummy bear will be dropped to his doom and flames will burst out of the tube as a result. 

Exploding Toothpaste*
Mix two solutions together and you get an amazing eruption of foam that looks like a giant stream of toothpaste exploding from the cylinder. Some people refer to this foam as elephants toothpaste. This demonstration is guaranteed to produce a room full of ooohs and ahhhs the moment the foam begins to erupt from the bottle. 

Exploding Ziploc Bag
What happens inside the bag is actually pretty interesting- the baking soda and vinegar eventually mix (the tissue buys you some time to zip the bag shut) When they do mix, you create an ACID-BASE reaction and the two chemicals work together to create a gas, (carbon dioxide- the stuff we breathe out). Well it turns out the gasses need a lot of room and the carbon dioxide starts to fill the bag, and keeps filling the bag until the bag can no longer hold it anymore and, POP! 

This project involves making a magnetic liquid that is fun to play with and fun to make.    

Fight Fire with Science
Do you like fire? I do. However sometimes fires are more dangerous than we anticipate and they tend to get out of hand. Luckily with a few simple ingredients you can make your very own fire extinguisher today.

Film Canister Rockets
There's nothing like rocket science to add some excitement to the day. When you add water it starts to dissolve the Alka-Seltzer tablet. This creates a gas called carbon dioxide. As the carbon dioxide is being released, it creates pressure inside the film canister. As the pressure builds up in the canister, the lid explodes off and sends the canister flying toward the sky.

Floam is like slime with polyester beads in it that kids can mold into shapes. You can sculpt it or use it to coat other objects. Like slime, it is safe for kids. However, this flexible polymer can be fun for all ages.

Floating Bubbles
Bubbles are lots of fun! But normally they fall to the ground and pop, this experiment will teach you how to keep them floating. By mixing baking soda and vinegar you make a reaction that produces carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide gas settles above the liquid in the bottom of the bucket in an invisible layer. The air you blow through the bubble wand contains oxygen and carbon dioxide. This means the bubbles will contain an oxygen and carbon dioxide gas mix that is lighter than the pure carbon dioxide gas at the bottom of the bucket. Once the bubbles float down into the bucket they will start floating on the invisible layer of carbon dioxide gas produced by the chemical reaction. 

Floating Candy Bars
Have you ever wondered why some objects float and others sink? Floating and sinkingare determined by density. But what is density? Density is the degree of compactness in a substance. In this experiment you will learn why some objects, such a candy bars, sink and others float and how their density affects them.

Floating Egg
In this experiment you will make an egg float in salt water. Have you ever noticed that it is easier to float in the ocean than in a river or a pool? This is because of the salt in the water. Just like you in the ocean, the egg will float in a glass of salt water. When salt is added to water the water becomes dense, density is the amount of matter contained in a given space. With this said, when the water becomes denser (heavier) than the egg, the egg will float.

Floating Ketchup Packets
This experiment is all about buoyancy and density. Buoyancy describes whether objects float or sink. This usually describes how things float in liquids, but it can also describe how things float or sink in and various gasses.

Fog Chamber
In this experiment we will create instant fog while learning how it is formed!

Gassy Balloons
Are you tired of blowing up balloons? If so, you should try using simple chemistry to satisfy all your ballooning needs. With just a little bit of baking soda and vinegar, you can create a chemical reaction that will actually do all the blowing you need. This is also a good way to measure the molarity (moles per liter) of a substance.

Gel Bead Fun
Hello it’s Gell-O, here for some gooey fun! By taking calcium chloride and sodium alginate, you can make a fun and interesting substance that is enjoyable for everyone. A polymer is a long chain of repeating molecules and in this activity the polymer is Sodium Alginate. The Calcium cross links to the Sodium Alginate in order to form the gel like substance.

Ghost Bubbles
Hey kids! Today you get to make cool bubbles that look like ghosts. For this simple reaction, we will mix water and liquid soap in a small container. Then, we will assemble a container that has a hose connected to it. Inside the hose we will add warm water and dry ice. This will help speed up the formation of gas. The hose attached to the container will have a nozzle on it and will be dunked in the soapy mixture. As a result, the gas pressure will form a bubble. If done carefully, you will get to see bubbles quickly forming that have a ghostly white gas inside them! 

Glitter Slime
What is slime? It feels like a solid, but at the same time it looks like a liquid. So which is it? Slime is a polymer. Polymer molecules are chained together; they are able to stretch which allows the slime to be flexible and have liquid properties but they also stay packed together which allows them to have solid properties.

Glowing Jello
This isn’t a cheat, and it’s not an optical illusion—these are simply tonic jellos made by adding gelatin to warm tonic water and it could be left to set or viewed while still in liquid form. So why are they glowing that fantastic ghostly color? The answer is that quinine–the bitter flavoring in tonic water– glows under a black light. The bigger the bulb, the better the glow. The great thing about this Jell-O, other than its glowiness, is that it is edible or drinkable! Are you guys ready to see with your own eyes if we are really able to make Jell-O glow?    

Glowing Lava Lamp
Organic chemistry is all around us. Most of the time, it exists in forms invisible to the naked eye, but often times, it manifests itself in physical properties that are clearly visible to all. Why do oil and water not mix? Why do some compounds glow under UV light? These are physical properties that can easily be observed, but are not entirely understood. The purpose of this experiment is to explore some organic chemistry concepts, such as hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity, and molecular structure, to provide an understanding of just how widespread organic chemistry is and how it affects so many aspects of the visible world around us. 

Gold and Silver Pennies*
What would you guys do if you could make gold from your own house? Back in the medieval days we had what we called alchemists! Alchemists used to spend weeks trying to convert metals into gold! However, they were never able to succeed! Today we will be alchemistsand try to make gold! REAL GOLD!We are going to have our pennies in Sodium Hydroxide and zinc solution, and a chemical reaction will be taking place called galvanization. Galvanization is what is going to cause our pennies to appear silver because it will coat them with zinc. The heat from the hot plate is going to cause the zinc and copper from the pennies to merge together producing what seems like gold but is really brass. Are you guys ready to see with your own eyes if we are really making gold or brass?

Grow Your Own Bacteria*
Bacteria are a fascinating type of organism which play a large role in our lives whether we like it or not. Try growing your own sample of bacteria while monitoring how it reproduces in a short period of time. Compare your original sample with that of others and get proof that bacteria are truly everywhere. 

Hidden Messages
Have you ever needed to get a message to someone but you didn’t want anyone else to read it? You could use a code or you might try invisible ink. Invisible ink is easy to make and can make you feel like a secret agent. With the invisible ink you can keep notes that you don’t want anyone else to see hidden or you can pass secret messages to your friends. This can be done with some simple household items. 

Hole-Y Water
Everything around us is made of atoms and molecules. Surprisingly, atoms and molecules are made up mostly of empty space. Here’s a simple experiment to prove that a glass of water molecules contains a whole lot of nothing. Well, a lot of space.]

Homopolar Motor
A homopolar motor is one of the simplest motors built due to the fact that it uses directcurrent to power the motor in one direction. The magnet’s magnetic field pushes up towards the battery and the current that flows from the battery travels perpendicularly from the magnetic field. This causes the creation of a force perpendicular to both the magnetic field and current. This force, known as the Lorentz force, is exerted on the copper wire (the conductor) causing it to spin.

Hot N Cold
Stir and see the difference! In this experiment you will witness both endothermic and exothermic reactions. By using simple materials such as vinegar, baking soda, hydrochloric acid, and magnesium, observe energy transformations!

Transportation of goods and materials has concerned people for centuries. Goods end up travelling by ship, truck, train and even by hoof and foot. In many cases these items travel by two or more of these methods. So how do you move these items without having to switch from ship to train to truck etc.? Perhaps the answer is in a hovercraft.

How to Make Slime
Slime is fun material that you can make yourself using common household ingredients. The ingredients start out as liquids, but when you mix them together chemical bonds form between the molecules in the slime, forming a substance known as a polymer. You encounter polymers every day. Examples of common polymers include the cellulose in paper and trees, keratin in hair and nails, and all types of plastics.

Ice, Ice Baby
The freezing and boiling points a solution is directly affected by the amount of particles in it. Therefore, different solutions have different freezing points, depending on their molality and mass. In this experiment we will investigate the freezing properties of sugar and salt solutions.

Incredible Egg Geodes
Don’t fry or scramble your egg, turn it into a beautiful crystal egg geode! In this experiment we will create these incredible crystals and learn about the process of crystallization!

Instant Fire*
With this experiment we will demonstrate a chemical reaction while producing a stunning purple flame right before your eyes!

Instant Ice
Do you enjoy changing the states of matter? If you do then instant ice is for you! With just a few household items you can change liquid water into ice. The heat lost by the water causes it to cool to freezing point upon contact with the ice.

Iodine Clock Reaction*
The sudden change from a colorless solution to the blue-black solution is the result of four sequential reactions. First, the bisulfite ions (HSO3-) reduce some of the iodate ions (IO3-) to form iodide ions (I-). Next, the iodide ions (I-) are oxidized by the remaining iodate ions (IO3-) to form triiodide ions (I3-). The solution now consists of triiodide ions (I3-) and soluble starch. In the third reaction, the triiodide ions (I3-) get reduced by the bisulfite ions (HSO3-) to become iodide ions (I-). That continues until all of the bisulfite has been consumed. Finally, the triiodide ions and starch combine to form the dark blue-black starch complex that looks like ink. 

Lava in a Cup
How would you like to make your own cheap and easy lava lamp? This one is easy but short lived.

Lincoln High Dive
An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. But what will happen if you apply a force to that object or any object near it? In this experiment you will learn about Newton’s First Law of Motion as well as the gravitational pull on objects.

Luminol Blood Detection*
Have you ever wondered how Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) are able to make blood glow at suspected crime scenes? Bring out your inner CSI self and enjoy this amazing project. Test it on fresh blood and older blood to see the different results. Also try different blood to see the variance. 

Magic Colored Milk
If you add food coloring to milk, not a whole lot happens, but it only takes one simple ingredient to turn the milk into a swirling color wheel. Here is what you do. 

Magnetic Attraction
Have you ever needed an easier and cooler way to pick up paper clips? With just a fewsimple household supplies, you can create a very powerful electromagnet of your own. By wrapping copper wire around a nail, you can create an electrical field which then in turn produces a magnetic field (right hand rule). When you complete the circuit, electrons flow through the copper wire and produce a magnetic field that allows you to pick up iron objects such as paperclips with the tip of the nail.

Make a Simple Duck Call
This is science? It sure is. You see all sounds come from vibrations. That little triangle that you cut in the straw forced the two pieces of the point to vibrate very fast against each other when you blew through the straw. Those vibrations from your breath going through the straw created that strange duck-like sound that you heard. Now you will never be bored again when you go to a fast food restaurant. 

Make A Paper Clip Float
Have you ever noticed that some things float while other things sink? The reason things sink or float is all determined by densities. An object that has an overall density lower than the density of the fluid it is placed in will float. While an object that has an overall higher density than the density of the fluid it is placed in will sink. So is it possible to have an object with a density higher than that of water float in water?  

Making A Fire With A Drop Of Water*
Normally people would use water to put out a fire, but in this experiment a drop of water will be used to ignite a fire. A drop of water will be placed on a mixture to instantly ignite a blue-green flame and smoke after. 

Marble Density Experiment
What is density? Density of a substance is its mass per unit volume. This experiment will demonstrate that different liquids and objects have different densities.

Everyone has tried shaking a can of soda and then opening it. What a mess! But did you know you can get a more amazing effect and turn a regular bottle of soda into a super fountain. Today, Mentos will be dropped into different types of carbonated soft drinks to create a monster soda fountain. The microscopic ridges in the candy and some key ingredients that make up the shell of the candy allows the bubbles to combine and build up, releasing the soda into a large geyser up to a few meters tall! We will also be comparing different types of soda to see which ones work the best. 

Milk Explosions
Not only is milk good for you but it is also the key ingredient for making a colorful explosion!!! How you ask?? The fat in milk reacts with the compounds in dish soap to create an explosion of colors with food coloring. The key component of this experiment is a molecule known as a micelle. Micelles are molecules that are clumped together that spread out fat in milk when soap is added. Because milk is mostly composed of water, the micelles in the soap will break water bonds. As chemists we get to explore and observed our questions and hypotheses. 

Milk of Magnesia
Have you ever had heartburn and taken products like Milk Magnesia to settle your stomach and wondered how those antacids really work? This highly visual demonstration uses cool color changing chemistry to show you exactly how Milk of Magnesia neutralizes the acids in your stomach.

Penny And Nickel Battery
Is it possible to create your own battery? Well yes it is possible and quite simple to create your own battery. For this experiment you will make a battery out of pennies and nickels. When done, you will be able to create about 1 volt. 

Picking up or Making a Mess
Bernoulli’s Principle says that as the speed of a fluid (AIR) increases, pressuredecreases, and as speed decreases, pressure increases. As you twirl the tubing (dryer tube) over your head, the speed of the air at the top of the tube increases (lowering the pressure), pulling high pressure air (and bits of paper or peanuts) up the tube! We are going to use Bernoulli’s Principle to scatter bits of paper or foam peanuts all over the room!

Polymers are everywhere! You can find them as plastics in cell phones, nylon in jackets, silicone in cookware, and synthetic rubber in tires. There are many types of polymers for many types of uses. We will explore the diverse nature of polymers to see how different they can be. Polymers are like long strands of noodles. When they are attached to one another, they can forms larger and larger strands. Depending on the “glue” used to attach the polymers together, the polymer can be hard, soft, slimy, or stiff and everything else in between. 

Potato Osmosis
Osmosis is the movement of fluids (usually water) from a lower concentration of solutes to a higher concentration of solutes through a semi-permeable membrane to equalize the concentration on both sides. Osmosis in an animal cell is somewhat different to osmosis in a plant cell; this is due to the cell wall that plant cells have. When an animal cell is in a hypotonic solution, it usually swells up and since there is no cell wall to keep it from swelling too much it can burst. On the other hand, plant cells become turgid in a hypotonic solution. In a hypertonic solution, animal cells shrink dramatically while plant cells become plasmolysed which happens because the cell wall does not change shape but the cell membrane shrinks inside the cell. In this experiment you will see the effects of putting a potato in a hypertonic solution and hypotonic solution.

P-U pH
Do you like pH? Because if you do this is going to stink. P-U! Cabbage can be a goodindicator for testing how acidic and how basic a substance is. In this experiment we will be testing the pH levels of various substances such as: lime juice, diet Pepsi, shampoo, tide detergent, etc. In substitution of the litmus paper, the cabbage will be the determinant.

Rain Cloud Jars
Have you ever wondered how rain is created? Did you know that rain is liquid water inthe form of a droplet? Droplets condense from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitate. This experiment is an easy way to demonstrate how rain in clouds form.

Rainbow Tower
Sugar water was prepared by dissolving skittles in various amounts. Sugar water is denser than water, the more sugar, the denser the water. Since the water with less sugar is less dense, it floats on top of the denser layer like oil on water.

Red Cabbage pH Indicator
Certain fruits and vegetables contain a pigment molecule called flavin; this molecule acts as a natural pH indicator. Among this list of fruits and vegetables is red cabbage. Test red cabbage’s pH indicating properties in this fun and colorful experiment.

Silly Putty
Have you ever wondered how putty is made? Well in 1943, an engineer named James Wright decided he wanted to make rubber. Well instead of making rubber, he made silly putty! Years later, silly putty became yours and the world’s favorite toy! Now we will act as chemists and make silly putty out of soap and glue. We are going to polymerize glue with soap which will make silly putty, just watch and see yourself! Did you know that silly putty is actually an example of a polymer that is called an elastomer. The reason why it’s called an elastomer is because no matter how many times you
smash or pull the silly putty with your hands, it will go back to the way you made it. Cool huh?!?! So as chemists today, we will perform polymerization, keep in mind the reaction that is taking place. Let’s get started! 

Silly Putty Borax
Have you ever wondered how putty is made? In 1943, an engineer named James Wright decided he wanted to make rubber. Well instead of making rubber, he made silly putty! Silly Putty is one of the world’s favorite toys and will remain popular for decades to come. While this is incredibly fun, silly putty involves the process of fluid chemistry, for the water has no fixed shape and can mold into practically anything.

Simulated Stomach Acid*
Have you ever wondered about the process of food breaking down in your stomach? Your stomach contains a very powerful acid that breaks down the food you eat into tiny molecules. This lab can be used with various food items to simulate this process by creating an acid of the same temperature and same acidity of an average stomach. 

Snotty Spinach
Learn about the process of DNA extraction through this simple experiment. This experiment requires few materials that are easily found around the household or classroom. It enables students to relate facts about DNA from their textbook to observe DNA hands-on.

Soap Power
Using soap to power a boat involving “surface tension.” Your boat should skip across the water. Water molecules are strongly attracted to each other and stick close together, especially on the surface. This creates a strong but flexible “skin” on the water’s surface that we call surface tension. Adding soap disrupts the arrangement of the water molecules and breaks the skin, making the boat go forward.

Sock Bubbles
Soap bubbles are essentially thin films of soap filled with air. They usually come out individually and pop very easily. When the individual bubbles are coming out of something like a sock, they stick together and form a long thick strand of fun messy foam. 

Sodium Polyacrylate*
This lesson incorporates concepts of Conservation of Mass, Properties of Matter, Metric Measurement and Conversion, and Observation Skills.

Solubility of Salt and Sand
With a solution of sand and salt, you will create a demonstration which shows examples of changes in the state of matter (phase changes) and solubility rules.

Sterno is useful for camping, fondue, pyro, and setting objects on fire. The following will information will instruct you on how to make Sterno flaming jelly from Antacid, Vinegar, and Alcohol. This sterno was made using calcium carbonate antacid tablets, vinegar, and either ethanol or isopropyl. Antacid tablets were crushed and added to vinegar to make calcium acetate. The Calcium acetate was then added to the ethanol or alcohol. The calcium acetate causes the alcohol to gel. 

Sugar Water Density Columns
You can make colorful columns that demonstrate the concept of liquid density with just water, sugar and food coloring. Density is mass (how many atoms are in an object) divided by volume (how much space an object takes up.)  Sugar molecules are made up of lots of atoms stuck together. The more sugar you add to a half cup of water, the more atoms it will contain and the denser it will be. Less dense liquids float to the top of more dense liquids.

Sulfur Thermite*
How many times have you needed to weld together a Train rails and thought how in the world will I do this? Well now that very sought after question has been solved, use sulfur thermite. Thermite has been known and used before, but mainly different materials are used in the making of it. For this termite we will use sulfur, aluminum powder, and wait for it sand... yes sand. 

Sunset Chemistry
Isn’t the sunset fascinating? Imagine creating your own in a beaker. The Tyndall effect (large molecules reflect light and small particles do not) is the main factor in this experiment, as the liquid begins to light up. With sodium thiosulfate and hydrochloric acid, watch the magic happen.

Surface Tension
You’re about to see three important forces tugging on droplets water: gravity, cohesion, and adhesion. Gravity flattens the droplets, cohesion holds the droplets together, and adhesion holds the drops on the surface of the coin. The cohesive force is the pull of the water molecules on themselves. Each successive drop sticks to the water that’s already on the coin. We often call this cohesive force “surface tension”. It’s what makes water drops look like they’re wrapped in invisible skins. Soap reduces the cohesive force, and breaks the surface tension. Soapy water makes smaller drops than plain water. Since soapy drops are smaller, more soapy drops will fit on a penny than plain water drops.

Taco Sauce Penny Cleaner
It’s one of those things you hear about but wonder if it is true. Can you use taco sauce to clean the tarnish off of a penny? Believe it or not, taco sauce does a great job of cleaning pennies, but how does it work? Which ingredients in the taco sauce are really doing the cleaning? Eight year old Jack Spangler, tackled these questions as part of his science fair project and made a surprising discovery.

The Can Crusher
This experiment will show students one example of differences in pressure in the environment. By heating aluminum cans and subjecting them to a colder environment, a vacuum effect will be created inside the can. This will instantly crush the can without having to touch it!

The Chemical Chameleon
tion-reduction reaction. When a tiny amount of potassium permanganate reacts with sugar
and sodium hydroxide (commonly used for soap making), multiple reactions occur within a
minute. The rapid chemical reactions create vibrant colors that can be observed by students.

The Green Lantern
Did you ever believe that somehow humans could produce green flames? In this experiment, we discovered that the use of household items such as roach killer (boric acid), ethyl alcohol and a watch glass is all you need to create a green flame. It is know that every element burns a different color including yellow, red, and pink.

The Incredible Hoop Glider
Have you ever made a paper airplane? What was the best design for your plane? Today we are going to learn how to make an unusual looking glider.

The Fireproof Ballon
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to have a balloon that is fireproof? Well now you can try it yourself at home with a little help from your parents. All you need is a few simple materials, and be careful to not get burned!Balloons are rather fragile things and must be kept away from sharp objects and flames. Fire can weaken the rubber and cause it to burst; however, in this experiment you will find out how to hold a balloon directly on a flame without breaking it. The secret is to put water inside of the balloon before inflating it. This will prevent the balloon from bursting once we expose it to the flame. The flame must be beneath the water in the balloon, this way the water will absorb most of the heat and the rubber won’t get as hot. Water has a really large specific heat, meaning that it takes a lot of heat to make water boil. Eventually the water will get hot enough to break the rubber. So be careful and enjoy this great experiment!

Can art and chemistry be combined? Today, we will create some designs in a piece of cloth. After today, you can put some art and chemistry in your t-shirts, of course, if your parents allow you! You are probably thinking what does this have to do with chemistry? It has to do with solubility, color mixing, and movement of molecules. We all know Sharpies are permanent markers, and they will not wash away with water because they are made of waterproof ink. This ink is therefore hydrophobic; it doesn’t mix with water. What if we use another type of solvent? Maybe alcohol? Since pigment molecules are large and not very polar, they are soluble in solvents are less-polar than water and contain long carbon chains like in rubbing alcohol. 

Tornado in a Box
The science behind this experiment is similar to the way real tornados form. It revolvesaround the idea of updrafts and wind-shear. As the fan pulls air out of the chamber, air comes in from the slot in the side. This then forms a vortex as the air is sucked in. The fog created by the dry ice is utilized by enhancing the visibility of this effect.

Underwater Volcano
Volcanoes are constantly erupting under water and go unnoticed. The volcanic byproducts create islands and new land. In this experiment you will be able to stimulate a volcanic eruption under water. Since the wax volcano erupts under water the hot volcanic byproducts are immediately cooled.

VB Rockets
Baking soda and vinegar are two common household items. Did you know that when they are combined they will create a forceful reaction? Baking soda and vinegar react with each other because of an acid-base reaction. Baking soda is a bicarbonate (NaHCO3) and vinegar is an acetic acid (CH3COOH). One of the products this reaction creates is carbon dioxide.

Water Bending
Using a balloon, a stirring rod, and a water faucet, you can bend water. With these materials, one can generate a significant amount of static electricity. With water molecules being polar, it becomes easy to “bend” it because one side will become attracted to the static rod.

Water Twist
Have you ever wondered about the magic of cohesion? There’s a simple yet exciting way to recreate this phenomenon. Using everyday products such as a 20-fl oz. Pepsi bottle, a thumbtack, and water, it is easy to see why many people are fascinated by the wonders of cohesion (the attraction between water molecules).

Wave Generator
Heat, light, sound, electricity, radiation are all forms of energy which are transmitted by waves. Amplitude, frequency, node, and internode are concepts which help describe anddefine waves. This apparatus shows all four of these wave principles in real form. Twomounted fractional horse motors with counter rotating shafts induce a resonant frequencyin a string connected to both shafts. Motor speed is controlled by a potentiometer with power supplied by four D cell batteries. The waves generated are perfect sine waves with fromone to six nodes. 

Ziploc Pencil Puncture
Have you ever attempted to push a sharp object through a Ziploc bag containing water? Most likely, it would leak all over, right? Well, this experiment will show you how to push sharpened pencils through a Ziploc bag filled with water without it leaking. The Ziploc bag is made up of Polyethylene. It contains molecules called polymers. The polymers cause the baggie to stretch and seal around the pencil preventing the water from escaping. 

* Teachers Only


Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

California State University, Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Highway
Bakersfield, CA  93311-1022 

Phone: (661) 654-2030
Fax: (661) 654-2040
Office: Science II 273