Category Archives: Chemistry

Experimenting with Small Metal Samples

We are proud to partner with our suppliers to provide you with the best products for your classroom, and we are also please to share this blog post from our partners at GSC International. 

Experimenting with Small Metal Samples

Hi, all. Today I wanted to try a little something different for our blog. Recently I was uploading our Electrode Disc Set product, and I realized that the instructions for its use are rather generalized. I thought it would be a cool idea to come up with and share some experiments that are possible with it.

This exercise is two-fold. For one, it will provide you with a jumping-off-point on how to use this product. Secondly, however, I want this to illustrate that many items are able be used to investigate various scientific principles. Though we offer many experiments geared towards investigating specific theories and principles, as you learn more about science and the inter-connectivity of what you observe in the world of science, you may find interesting and unique ways to explore a concept using a product in an innovative manner. Though safety should always be your top concern, science is all about discovery and observation through any means possible. Try some of the experiments in this blog and use them to consider scientific experimentation more broadly.

Corrosion:

Materials:

  • S38992
  • Materials for different environmental conditions (Water, Salt, White Vinegar, Baking Soda, etc…)
  • Glass Jars

Purpose:

  • You will be observing how the various metals in the Electrode Disc Set corrode in different conditions. Buying the Electrode Disc Set will provide you with ten separate sets of metals, allowing you to run this experiment with one control group and up to nine experimental groups.

Procedure:

  1. Create your control group. Lay out one electrode disc set in the open air.
  2. Take a picture to document the appearance of each electrode in your control group.
  3. Create your experimental groups. As stated above, one kit will allow you to have one control group and up to nine experimental groups. Each experimental group will be testing the effects a given solution has on each metal. This experiment works well using tap water, salt water, white vinegar, and a basic solution of baking soda and water. By filling four separate jars with the solutions just explained, you will have four experimental groups. You can stop at just five groups for your experiment (one control and four experimental), or you can use varying acidic (vinegar), basic (baking soda), or salt concentrations to create additional independent variables. Fill a jar with your chosen solution for each experimental group you wish to experiment with, and place a full set of metal electrodes in each jar.
  4. Label each jar with its contents and the date that you began the experiment.
  5. Take a picture to document the appearance of each electrode in each one of your experimental groups.
  6. For a period of two to three weeks, observe the electrodes in each group for changes. Photograph them as regularly as possible, labelling each picture with the date it was taken, the material of the electrode, and group it belongs to.
  7. After your experimental period is over, make your observations. Which solution corroded each metal the most? Does a higher or lower pH have an effect of the corrosion of your metals? Looking back on your pictures, did any solution corrode your electrodes at a quicker rate than the others? Did you notice any other interesting transformations for your electrodes? Based on your results, do you have any follow-up experiments that you may find interesting to do?

Potato Battery:

Materials:

Purpose:

  • You will be creating a chemical battery just using two electrodes and one potato. This experiment will help you to understand the components of an electrochemical battery, as well as reduction and oxidation reactions. All that a battery requires to work is an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte solution. In the case of our potato battery, the phosphoric acid within the potato facilitates chemical reactions with the two electrodes. In our example below, the zinc anode undergoes an oxidation reaction and loses electrons into the electrolyte solution, and the copper cathode undergoes a reduction reaction where free electrons from the solution combine on the surface of the electrode with hydrogen ions in order to create an uncharged hydrogen molecule.

 

Procedure:

  1. Take your copper electrode and your zinc electrode. Place them halfway into the potato, roughly an inch apart.
  2. Connect a red cord to your copper electrode and a black cord to your zinc electrode. Also, connect two leads to your voltmeter.
  3. To show a baseline of zero volts, touch the two leads coming off your voltmeter together.
  4. Use your voltmeter to test your potato battery now. What is its voltage?
  5. Using new potatoes, test out different batteries made from other anode/cathode combinations (from other dissimilar metal combinations from the Electrode Disc Set). Which combination yields the highest voltage battery?
  6. You can expand on this experiment in several ways. Do other fruits or veggies create better batteries? Does connecting two or three potato batteries in a series circuit increase the voltage? How about connecting two or three potato batteries in parallel circuit?

Potato Battery Experiment

 

Thermal Conductivity:

Materials:

  • S38992
  • Hot Plate with a low-heat setting, or another low-heat heat-source (such as a pan on a low stove-top)
    • (Warning: Be careful when handling any sort of heat source. Do not burn yourself. Use supervision.)
  • Wax or Butter
  • Stopwatch

Purpose:

  • You will be comparing the thermal conductivity of the electrodes in our Electrode Disc Set.

Procedure:

  1. Take one set of room-temperature electrode discs and top them with a small amount of material that can melt. This can be five equally-sized pads of butter (smaller than the electrode discs) or two dried drops from a melted wax candle per disc.
  2. Slide all five discs onto a cool hot plate and turn it onto its lowest setting. Watch the discs to observe which melts its material fastest.
  3. Allow the hot plate to cool completely before running the experiment again.
  4. In five separate runs (or with the help of four other friends with stopwatches), time how long it takes for each electrode to melt its material. For each electrode, gather three different times to average your results.
  5. Plot your results. Which material conducts heat the best?

Thermal Conductivity Experiment

 

Science is only limited by your imagination and your curiosity. The above experiments are by no means the only possible experiments with this kit. Do you have any other experiments that you can think of with these metal electrodes? Let me know in the comments below!

CREDIT: GSC Go Science Crazy and Jacob Monash

What Makes Fireflies Glow?

Pretty soon, when you look outside at night you will notice the intermittent glow of fireflies throughout your backyard. This is one of the sure-tell signs that summer is finally here and while these twinkling bugs can keep us in awe for what seems like hours at a time, there is some serious chemistry happening in their bodies. Continue reading “What Makes Fireflies Glow?” »

Cotton Candy Could be Useful for Science

Cotton candy has come to be known as a carnival food staple practically all over the world. Kids and adults alike always seem to be completely fascinated by the feathery treat’s unique lighter than air properties. Believe it or not, the chemistry behind making cotton candy might prove to be useful in laboratory research to help grow new tissues in the lab.

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15 Images That Will Leave You in Awe of Science

This is an image of oil paint floating in a solution of water and methylated spirits.: When you think of science what usually comes to mind? It’s doubtful that colorful imagery or bright, exciting chemical reactions that look like they’re going to jump out at you from the page are top of your list. Believe it or not, all of these images below are in fact science reactions captured by some of the world’s greatest photographers. Read on and be prepared to be completely in awe of science!

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A Teacher’s Guide to Coffee

Did you know that coffee is the world’s second most valuable traded commodity? With almost 2.25 billion cups of coffee consumed every day it’s no surprise that people all over the world can’t get enough of the delicious beverage and research shows teachers feel the same way, with 56% choosing coffee as their drink of choice.  Also, the type of bean used can depend on how much caffeine is in a cup with Robusta varieties containing the most amount. Check out these and more facts below in our Teacher’s Guide to Coffee infographic!

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Chefs Rely on Ohaus to Teach Ingredient Consistency and Portioning

foodworld_penncollege_bodyphoto3Accuracy. Consistency. Reliability. These are the words that best describe Ohaus and the kinds of standards that are always top of mind when they’re designing their products. Their unwavering commitment to high-quality and durability makes them a staple in almost every industry so it’s no surprise that the students enrolled in The Pennsylvania College of Technology’s School of Hospitality’s Baking & Pastry Arts program are finding success with Ohaus balances.

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Ohaus Brews Up Perfection With Yonkers Brewing Company

You already know Ohaus has perfected the science of mass measurement with their state-of-the-art balances and scales. They’re constantly improving their capabilities and functions as well as ensuring their products are easy to use. Another field that Ohaus continues to raise the bar in is water analysis and testing pH levels. Their Starter Series line of water analysis products all contains intuitive software that is both straightforward and highly accurate. The Yonkers Brewing Company, located in Yonkers, New York, took notice of this and decided to use Ohaus’ equipment for their brewing process.

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First True-Color Super Resolution Microscopy Technique Developed

Tmicroscopy imageo say there have been many advancements in the field of microscopy since the development of the first compound microscope by Zaccharias Jansen in the late 16th century is an understatement. Jansen and his father, Dutch spectacle makers, built the first microscope by using three draw tubes with lenses inserted into the ends of the flanking tubes. They discovered a much larger image than expected; much larger than simple magnifying glass provided. The very first compound microscopes only magnified images between 6x – 9x. Microscopes of today can magnify images to the nanometer.

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Magnets and Cents

copper manganeseWith as plentiful as magnets are in our everyday lives– from the electronics and motors to our refrigerators covered in them – it’s hard to imagine that there are only a few metals that are naturally magnetic. As we become more gadget obsessed, our need for magnetic materials increases. And now researchers have made magnets out of two non-magnetic metals: copper and manganese. This discovery could be useful in microscopic electronics and sensors.

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Winter Science Fun

Nature-SnowflakeToday marks the official first day of winter so we’ve gathered a few science experiments you can try! From melting ice to creating winter in a glass, you and your students will have a blast with these experiments that help you celebrate the winter season.

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