Saturday, October 12, 2013

In The Lab...

I'm no "Doc" Brown, but I'm doing my best to make this year's study of chemistry live up to Gunnar's mad scientist expectations.  At the very least we're doing lots of experiments, though I cruelly force him to keep a notebook where he writes up the experiments as well as definitions of key science terms and concepts (because I'd like him to be smarter than these guys) and sketches the occasional diagram or model.

For this week, we're talking about mixtures and how they can be "un-mixed".  For instance, is it possible to extract the apple-smelling part out of apple cider vinegar?

We've got some distilled vinegar and some cider vinegar in a warm-ish, sunny place to let evaporation take its course, and we'll see what happens.

We've also collected several colors of leaves and extracted the pigments (chlorophyll and more) from them.  I didn't get a picture of Gunnar - looking very officially "science-y" - using the mortar and pestle to grind the leaves to a pulp in some rubbing alcohol.

And it's really too bad you couldn't hear his unceasing commentary about how much he hates the smell of rubbing alcohol, because that really contributed a lot to the professional feel of the whole experience.  Sheesh.

But he particularly enjoyed setting up this contraption to suspend the filter paper so it would hang down into the jars of leaf pulp.

That took some fidgeting, to get the notebooks to stand up just at the right height.

But... success!
You can try it yourself quite easily,
and you don't need fancy chromatography paper -
an ordinary coffee filter will do just fine.

We let it sit overnight and then dried the strips of filter paper
and taped them into his notebook when I
(gasp! oh the horror!) made him write it up.

He always hopes I'll forget.
So I make him a deal:
If we do more than one experiment a day,
he only has to write up the best one.

Aren't I nice? ;D


melanie said...

Any credits for engineering that contraption? :-)
The colors are beautiful - and so are the little jars!

sara said...

I've noticed that the whining and complaining doesn't seem to deter you in any way. I need a dose of your strength.

Also, someday when you're in the mood, I was wondering if you might explain how you come up with your weekly Mother Load list. :)

Felicity said...

Well that looks grand!!
Some of my kids don't like doing 'simple' experiments... you know, like if he can tell the outcome why do the experiment. He'd probably want to do something worthwhile like blowing things up.... :-/

The dB family said...

Fun! I'm going to show this to Beans and see if she might be interested in doing something like this for her science fair project at school. If so, she better gather leaves quickly!

Thanks for sharing!


Vega said...

I work at a school helping science teachers run experiments for their students, so I love seeing how those same experiments are done at home! Would love to see photos of the results, and what veggies gave the nicest colours. Because I may have to try those veggies for my school... :)

And I think vodka smells exactly like rubbing alcohol. Maybe that would become a beneficial negative association! ;)