Chemical reactions happen when one or more chemicals come in contact with one another. The reaction turns the chemicals into new compounds. For example, a lit candle combines carbon in the wax with oxygen in the air, releasing light and giving off carbon dioxide. Mixing various safe chemicals and observing the reaction is a good teaching method for leaning basic chemistry. Try some of these simple and safe chemical reaction experiments, and have fun.
Vinegar and Baking Soda Lava
Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 2 tablespoons of baking soda. When the baking soda blends with the vinegar, it starts forming bubbles. If you add a few drops of red food coloring to the vinegar before adding the baking soda, it makes a good lava for a homemade volcano experiment. Add a few drops of liquid detergent in with the vinegar and food coloring to create a thick oozing lava.
Cornstarch Goo -- Solid or Liquid?
Pour one 16-ounce box of cornstarch and 2 cups of water into a large plastic bowl. When you stir the mixture very fast, it gets solid. When you slowly stir the mixture, it is liquid. Experiment with the mixture by hitting it with your hand and seeing what happens. Next, slowly slide your hand into the mixture. The mixture drips off the hands, but if you roll the mixture between your hands, it forms a solid ball.
Set up this experiment in advance and work in front of an audience. Take a clear glass with a thick bottom and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of powdered drink mixture around the bottom of the glass. Swirl the powder around the bottom of the glass so it spreads out and looks like the bottom of the glass. Fill a clear pitcher full of water and set it beside the glass. After the materials are set up, do the experiment. Show everyone the empty glass and tell them, “I’m going to turn this water into wine as it goes from the pitcher to the glass.” Pour the water slowly into the glass, and the chemicals in the powdered drink mix changes the water’s color.
Combine 1 pint of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of salt in a spray bottle. These chemicals react to copper, removing any oxidation from the metal. Place several old, dirty pennies on a flat, waterproof surface. Spray the solution on them. Watch the surface of the pennies and see how long it takes before the pennies are clean, bright and new looking.