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Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Fun with Science

My three friends from across the street came over yesterday. Junior needed to get his homework done. He had to describe various kinds of indicators you use in science, like pH paper, or litmus paper as I knew it back in the day. This got us talking about acids and bases, so of course I decided it was time to drag out the baking soda and vinegar. Fortunately we had some white vinegar in the house. I wonder if you could do a science fair project about the reactivity of different kinds of vinegar with baking soda--white vinegar, wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar, for example. I think I just wrote them in order of decreasing acidity, so less reactivity with baking soda, one would imagine. But how would you measure less reactivity? Less fizz? hmmm...

Anyway, the guys liked watching the baking soda fizz when I poured vinegar on it. We all tasted it afterwards. The youngest one was the first to try after I demonstrated. "Just try it--you'll see it doesn't taste as sour now."

The littlest one went for it. "Yeah, you're right," he said. He didn't get grossed out or anything, unlike Junior or Junior's buddy, who really made a face after his taste.

I called my mom, the retired chemist, before we started, just to make sure we wouldn't blow anything up. I hadn't done this in ages so I didn't remember if it was just a little fizzy or if it got hot or anything. Mom Chemist suggested putting the bowl in the sink just to be sure it wouldn't fizz up and hit somebody in the eye, since I don't have goggles. It was fine, quite tame, of course. Now if I knew how to make one of those volcanoes....

Joey was kind of into volcanoes a couple of years ago. We made a volcano in the snow, but just kinds of drew on some lava trails. It would be cool to make a model volcano that fizzed thanks to baking soda and vinegar. I think I saw that on the Brady Bunch years ago.

Anyway, there are way cool things you can make yourself at Tinkering School, like this cool bottleboat submarine. Thanks to Alexander Russo at District 299 and the Science After School blog for linking to a video talk by the founder of Tinkering School, which led me to his site.

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