Blow’d Up Good, Blow’d Up Real Good

3 Feb

First – BONUS points if you know where that headline comes from and don’t just think I’m gettin’ my hillbilly on.

Second, when I’m neglecting this blog, it’s because I am furthering my education. And, believe it or not, I’m pursuing a teaching degree. I know, it’s hard to resolve that with the grammar horrors routinely committed here. Red lines and points off everywhere.

Sentence fragments! Rambling non-sequiturs! General overuse of clichés! Informal language everywhere! Gratuitous exclamation marks!

Where was I? Oh, yes.

This semester, I am taking Science for Elementary Teachers, which is all kinds of fun because the lectures on atomic theory and other serious things are punctuated with experiments involving noisy messy things. And the instructor, God bless her, is not at all phased when I get out my phone and say “hang on, I want to live stream this and maybe put it on the internet.”

So, last night, we learned about chemical reactions, and a fabulous experiment you can do tonight with your kids if they’re bored.

You will need:

  • An empty film canister or one of those plastic canisters vending-machine toys come in.
  • An Alka-Seltzer tablet
  • Water
  • A tolerance for some degree of messiness and squealing

You will fill the cannister about halfway with water, drop in half an Alka-Seltzer tablet, snap the lid on, flip the cannister upside down and stand back expectantly.

And this will happen:

Or perhaps this:

The education value in this is to teach Ideal Gas Law, and if you want to know about that and see a lesson plan, go here: Cool Science Lesson Plan.  But I would recommend just trying this out with your kids on the next rainy day.

12 Responses to “Blow’d Up Good, Blow’d Up Real Good”

  1. Meredith @ thinkthinks February 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Love it. My kids love all things messy and explode-y and sciencey. We tried the mentos in diet coke thing, but sadly it didn’t work too well. Definitely going to give this a go!

  2. LGV February 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    Never was a SCTV fan… but could appreciate funny explosions.

    …Amusing… your CaCO3 (calcium carbonate – Alka Seltzer) parlor gag as a gas law lesson. It conjured Physical Chemistry (p-Chem) flashbacks of the ubiquitous equation: PV=nRT. (For added falir, add food-coloring or trap it in a balloon/plastic bag) Cheers!

    • lettergirl February 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

      Over. Achiever. Get the bonus question and use an equation. What are you, a research scientist or something? =)

  3. Sandra February 3, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    I recognized the SCTV reference too. (And likely heard it a good five years before you did, being a Canuckian and all…) No equations, though. so do I get the bonus marks?

  4. David McLemore February 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    When my older son was 16, he found plans for a potato gun. It’s as bad as it sounds. From a long piece of PVC pipe, lots of duct tape and the igniter from an old BBQ hooked up to a nine-volt , he made what looked like a bazooka.

    He’d throw a large potato in one end, spray some kind of accelerant in the firing chamber and, when ready, pushed the igniter starter button. Voila, instant flying potato.

    After he tired of torturing the dogs with flying potatos, he experimented with increasing firepower. The boy idolizes more bang for the buck. His newer model made a pleasing ‘thock’ and cast the potato way into the air, out of our yard, past the alley and over the neighbor’s house. It was still accelerating when we lost sight. He was delighted.

    I mention this because he started out in interest in blowing things up with the film canister and Alka-Seltzer experiment. Beware what science leads to.

    OH. It was Big Jim on SCTV. Those boys knew blowin’ stuff up.

    • lettergirl February 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

      “..still accelerating when we lost sight.” I am laughing so hard. And seeing 6 years into the future.

  5. bernicekearney February 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    Ah. Potato Guns… I ❤ them (shot my first one off at the tender age of 40… I'm still hooked!)

  6. Elle February 4, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    Love this–aaand the kids will find it noisy and messy. Two of their favorite things!

  7. Schmutzie February 5, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday:


  8. Beth February 5, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    Good for you, getting your teaching degree! I’m a school counselor, when I’m not being a Mommy, and it’s awesome working with kids. Your science story reminded me of my 10th grade year, when I accidentally sat in some acid and burned a hole in my new Jordache jeans. (Yeah, Jordache. I’m that old!)

    Keep up the great work. I love your blog!

    • lettergirl February 10, 2010 at 9:11 am #

      I had Jordache jeans! And Gloria Vanderbilt. LOL

  9. ingrid February 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    LOL, I could so see my kids having a field day with that! Too bad they’ve already completed their science fair porjects.

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