Demonstrations

1. Oscillating Clock Reaction

In this experiment, a reaction occurs in which different states of iodine cause the reaction solution to “magically” oscillate between different colors.

See: Shakhashiri, B. Z. Chemical Demonstrations: A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry; University of Wisconsin: Madison, 1983; vol. 2, pp 248-256.

2. Synthesis of Nylon

In this first of two polymer experiments, synthetic nylon (a polymer) is prepared by combining the two parent monomers, a bis-acid chloride and a bis-amine. Students are introduced to polymers and are able to witness polymer chemistry in action.

3. Collapsible Gel

In this experiment, students see another application of polymer chemistry. A cross-linked network polymer swells by absorbing 100 times its weight in water! Then, the polymer expels the water as the network collapses.

4. Acid/Base

Here, a naturally occurring acid/base indicator is extracted from purple cabbage and used to test the pH of a range of household items. This colorful experiment serves as a great review of acid and base chemistry, as well as an introduction to naturally occurring chemical compounds.

5.  Chemistry of Light

The idea behind this demonstration is to show that light can be generated in at least three ways, all chemical in nature and different from the way that traditional lightbulbs work. Students learn about chemiluminescence, phosphorescence, and fluorescence using UV light, glow sticks, and more!

6. Temperature

The presentation ends with a discussion of temperature, and a chance to play with liquid nitrogen and dry ice! Common items are flash-frozen at low temperatures, making this demonstration a favorite of most students. Discussion includes gas laws, elasticity, sublimation, and extreme temperatures, among other topics.