• Question: What do you think the best experiment is to do with children in year 9??

    Asked by simig96 to David, James, Mike, Suze, Will on 20 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Suze Kundu

      Suze Kundu answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      Hi Simig96! Nice to hear from you again after our live chat earlier today!

      I’m really not sure what experiments would be best. Would it be as part of a normal science lesson, or as a lesson that gives you a taster of what you can do with chemistry? I think I would do some ‘show’ demonstrations, where we set fire to one thing, melt something else, break another thing, and obviously make liquid nitrogen, but I’d like to make each experiment relevant to a story about how chemistry is in our lives every second. I’ll have a think about it, and maybe get some help from the professors in my department, as they’ll have seen every experiment a million times, and would know what would work to back up different parts of the story!

    • Photo: James Marrow

      James Marrow answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Simig96: it’s really good if you can link the experiment to a story. For example, you can do a crime story where science is used to identify the crook. I saw this done once, and was really impressed.

      1: use chromatography (splitting of colours in ink on wet paper) to identify the pen that a ransom note was written with. Make sure you have several black or blue pens that have different colours in them. You can talk about how colours are made, and also link this to DNA sequencing even!
      2: show how fingerprints are taken and identify the crook using them. You can talk about how unique they are.

    • Photo: William Eborall

      William Eborall answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      A lecturer showed us an experiment in a lecture once which was brilliant but I can’t remember how it was done 🙁
      He put some iron filings in a huge round bottomed flask, added something and turned out the lights. The iron filings floated up and burned bright orange and it looked like fireflies trapped in a jar. Wish I could remember how to do it :/

    • Photo: Mike Dodd

      Mike Dodd answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      I always loved the demonstrations in chemistry, where you put a small amount of potassium in water and watch it wizz around the bowl.