Make it fizz, bang or even wallop

11th March 2005 at 00:00
BURNING SKITTLES

Try heating 1.5cm potassium chlorate in a test tube until it starts releasing oxygen. Drop in a Skittle sweet and stand back. The result: bright flame, lots of smoke and a lovely toffee smell.

WRITING IN FLAMES

Dissolve sodium nitrate to make a saturated solution. Use a paintbrush to write a name in joined up writing, on sugar paper. Mark the start point with a pen and leave to dry. Then light the start with a glowing splint and watch the name appear as only the painted bit burns.

VINEGAR BOMB

Half-fill a film canister with vinegar, then lay a one-ply tissue over the top. Put a spatula of bicarb on to the tissue, and replace the canister lid firmly. Turn the canister over and bang it on the desk. It should then hit the ceiling!

FRACTIONAL DISTILLATION

You can't use crude oil to show fractional distillation, and many substitutes aren't very good, try fractionally distilling Dr Pepper or Cherry Coke. Alternatively, try red wine distillation. This leaves you with two products which you can show are different, as one is flammable and the other puts flames out.

FLOATING ASHES

Take an Amaretto biscuit paper, wrap it in a cylinder and stand the cylinder vertically. Light the top edge of the cylinder. As it burns down, the remaining ash lifts into the air. Alternatively try a fruit tea bag. Cut one open, tip out the tea. Shape into a cylinder and light.

MATCH-POWERED ROCKET

Wrap the upper half of an ordinary match in one or two layers of aluminium foil. Push a pin under the foil to the match head, and remove the pin, leaving an exhaust channel. Place the match rocket on an incline and heat the foil-covered match head. As the match head ignites, hot gases escape down the channel at high speed, and the match will be flung forward.

MARSHMALLOWS IN A VACUUM

Empty a clear glass wine bottle, and put in a few marshmallows. The small ones go through the neck easily. Use a Vacuvin vacuum stopper and pump to evacuate the air from the bottle. Watch what happens.

CHICKEN TENDONS

Perhaps not one for the squeamish, but there's a lot of fun to be had with a chicken foot. Pull the tendon, and watch the foot close on a child's finger. Alternatively, a traditional butcher might give you a cow leg bone with the knee joint still intact, which you can move around to show how it works.

TONGUE CELL

To make a battery with your tongue, you need a piece of aluminium foil and something silver, such as a piece of jewellery or a silver fork. Touch the foil and the silver together, and put your tongue at the place where they meet.

WOOMER TUBE CONVECTION

A 'woomer tube' is a two foot metal tube with gauze wrapped up to about 10cm at one end. Heat the gauze strongly, then take the heat away. The convection current set up makes a wonderful noise.

Thanks to Tim Gayler, Kath Jones, Paul Tyreman and other science teachers on The TES science forum: www.tes.co.ukstaffroomscience

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