Monday, October 19, 2015

13 Days of Halloween: Alka-Seltzer Fun

13 Days of Halloween

Halloween is a great time of year to explore the world around you.  Anything that is bubby is always fun.  I like to do lots of chemical reactions at Halloween.  A mad scientist is always needed.

When I was a kid my mom would let us create a summer haunted house.  My own children do the same now.  We always include a mad scientist area.  We give tours to the kids in the neighborhood.  It is difficult to re- set up chemical reactions for each tour.  We found that Alka-Seltzer is a great way to have a bubbling concoction.  We can easily have a large vase and just keep placing tablets in.  There are so many more things you can learn from Alka-Seltzer tablets. 

Day 1 of the 13 Days of Halloween

Alka-Seltzer Fun

Alka-Seltzer tablets are anti-acid tablets used to treat things like indigestion.  Think of it like the classic vinegar and baking soda reaction in a tablet.  The tablet contains citric acid which represents the acid.  The tablet also contains sodium bicarbonate which represents the base.  It also contains Aspirin which has no affect in the reaction.  Since the citric acid and baking soda are in a powdered form they do not react until water is added.  The two powders begin to dissolve in the water and start to interact.  When they interact lots of bubbles form.  These bubbles contain carbon dioxide gas.  Here is a great way to prove it is carbon dioxide and not oxygen.

Activity 1:  Alka Seltzer Blow Out

Supplies:  Small Container, 1/2 Alka-Seltzer Tablet, Water, Match
1.  Place the container on a table.  You may want to place a paper towel underneath to catch spills.
2.  Fill the container 1/2 full with water.
3.  Place the 1/2 tablet into the liquid.  It will immediately start to bubble.
4.  Light the match and get the flame burning.  Slowly place the flame overtop of the container.
5.  The flame will magically go out.
Explanation:  Fire needs oxygen to burn.  All of the carbon dioxide gas rises up from the container smothering the flame.  If the gas were oxygen the flame would burn brighter.

Activity 2:  Alka-Seltzer Lava Lamp 

Supplies:  Baby Soda Bottle Test Tube or Small Container, Mineral Oil or Vegetable Oil, Liquid Food Coloring, Water, Eye Dropper, 1/4 Alka-Seltzer Tablet
1.  Fill the test tube a little over 3/4 full with oil.
2.  Add 5 drops of water and 5 drops of food coloring.
3.  Drop the 1/4 Alka-Seltzer tablet into the oil.
4.  Watch for the colorful bubbles to reach the top.
5.  Once the bubbles reach the top add 5 more drops of water.  This will make the colored drops larger.
6.  Observe the colored water drops going up and down in the tube. 
If the tube is too full  it may over flow.  Be ready for any spills.  The students will enjoy that too.
Explanation:  Water does not mix with oil.  The water sinks to the bottom of the test tube.  Alka-Seltzer does not react with oil.  When the water reaches the tablet at the bottom of the test tube it begins to react.  The bubbles off colored water float to the top.  When the carbon dioxide gas escapes the test tube the colored water sinks.  It reacts with the tablet at the bottom again and up it floats to the top.  This continues to happen until the tablet is completely dissolved. 

Activity 3:  Temperature and Alka-Seltzer Tablets 

Supplies:  Alka-Seltzer Tablets, Cold Water, Room Temperature Water, Warm Water, 3 Jars, Stop-watch
1.  Fill the first jar with cold water.
2.  Drop in an Alka-Seltzer tablet and start the stop-watch.
3.  Observe the reaction.  Once the tablet is completely dissolved stop the stop-watch and record the time.
4.  Follow steps 1-3 for both room temperature and warm water.
Explanation:  The reaction with warm water should be the fastest.  The water molecules in the warm water are moving faster and coming into contact with the Alka-Seltzer much more frequently.  The cold water should be the slowest because those molecules are moving much slower and not coming into contact with the tablet as quickly.
Remember this is only Day 1.  Be sure to come back and check out other fun hands-on activities, giveaways, and more for the next 13 days.
Happy Halloween!

For more Science fun check out these activities.

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