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Monday, November 16, 2009

Chemfest 2009 at Boonshoft

For National Chemistry Week the Boonshoft Museum paired up with the local ACS (American Chemical Society) chapter to put on Chemfest. This year ACS is honoring the 140th anniversary of the periodic table. Of course when I saw this I knew we had to go!

I have my BS in Chemistry. Although I'm not that great of a chemist (and probably wouldn't have pursued it if it wasn't for my Dad) I'm still fascinated by it. So we dragged the kids over to the museum for an afternoon of learning.
We were given a 'Passport'. Basically the periodic table with missing elements. As we went around to the different stations, the demonstrators filled in the elements. Below are pictures of the ten stations.

Dynomite using a Geiger counter.

Trouble experimenting with Potato power.

This was our favorite experiment. For an explanation click here. Although in this experiment they used a hand generator and paperclips. But the effect was the same.

Nanotube out of balloons....fascinating!
This is one experiment the kids understood. When helium is in a balloon it floats and when you just blow into one it doesn't. Helium is lighter! They got that! (or pretended they did, so they could get a free balloon)

Trouble had more fun drawing on a dollar bill then understanding. Dynomite was ecstatic about painting a banana, she even suggest we do it at home. If the dollar was fake, it would have starch it and the iodine painted on it would turn brown. No brown=real dollar.

Cleaned pennies from a mixture of salt and vinegar. Try it at home. Instructions here.
The demonstrator was funny! She said, "Have you noticed the ugly gray your silver turns at home?" Like we have a bunch of silver things hanging around our house! Ha Ha!! Well, if you do just dip those items in a solution of baking soda and water. I do not recommend making a paste out of the baking soda and scrubbing, because that can damage the silver. My friend did tell me to use toothpaste (no the gel kind, and without whitening ingredients). That does work, too!

I've never done this experiment before (for some reason, food wasn't usually allowed in the chem labs). We ground up cereal claiming to be full of iron (some kind of bran flakes). Put the crumbs in a Ziploc bag with water. Then held a magnet to the bag and saw all the little iron particle come out. They even told us if you hold a very strong magnet to spinach, the iron will pop right out. I'm dying to try that.
Dynomite grinding: Trouble moving iron around:

After their 'passports' were all filled we returned to the start and collected our bags filled with a magnet, a ACS booklet, and their very first copies of the periodic table :-) Scientist in the making...it brings a NaCl droplet of H2O to our eye.


Jessica Eiden Smedley said...


Things like this make me miss OMSI and other science-based museums; nothing like that where I live now. Looks like you guys had a great time.

Jen and Allen said...

Now that is Cool send them here would ya.

Cynthia said...

"a NaCl droplet of H2O to our eye" ha, ha, ha!!! sounds like fun. (Your boonshoft trip- not they crying idea) Way to bring out their scientific natures. :-)

Colleen said...

This looks like so much fun! I MUST try the iron experiment! "NaCl droplet of H2O to our eye" haha. That's so you, Denay;)

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