An experienced chemistry professor used to say that it took about one explosion per week to maintain college students' attention in chemistry lectures. At that rate, we'd get in pretty big trouble with a lot of parents and teachers! Don't worry, we still have lots of bubbles, fizzes, bangs, and color changes for you to explore.

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Science Fair Project Idea
There are three different kinds of polymers used for kitchen plastic wrap: low density polyethylene (LDPE) (e.g., Handiwrap or Glad Wrap), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (e.g., Reynolds PVC Foodservice Wrap or Boardwalk PVC Food Wrap Film) and polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC) (note: Saran Wrap used to be made with polyvinylidene chloride, but has switched to polyethylene. You will need to search for another brand that uses PVdC if you want to test it). Which of these materials is least permeable to… Read more
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Science Fair Project Idea
Fill a jar a little more than half full with fresh water. Make a solution of salt water, and add a drop or two of food coloring to it. Pour the salt water solution into a plastic cup with a small hole in the bottom, and then place the cup in the jar with fresh water. (The only connection between the fresh and salt water should be via the hole in the bottom of the cup.) With the right combination of hole size and salt concentration, you will see an oscillating current develop in the jar. … Read more
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A solution consists of a solute dissolved in a solvent. A solution is saturated when no additional solute will dissolve in it. You'll need a gram balance, a 100 ml graduated cylinder, three beakers or glass jars, three saucers, water, 50 g non-iodized salt (NaCl), 50 g Epsom salts (MgSO4) and 250 g sugar (sucrose). Method 1: Measure 100 ml water and pour into an empty beaker or jar. Weigh out the suggested amount of the solute to be tested. Add a small amount of… Read more
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Science Fair Project Idea
Have you or one of your pets ever been sprayed by a skunk? Hopefully not, but if you have, you probably know that the smell can be very unpleasant and hard to get rid of. There are many "folk remedies" for getting rid of skunk scent, but if you ever do get sprayed by a skunk, how will you know which one to try? In this science project, you will test the ability of various mixtures to remove the bad scent from rags that have been contaminated with bottled skunk scent, and determine which one… Read more
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Science Fair Project Idea
A solution consists of a solute dissolved in a solvent. A solution is saturated when no additional solute will dissolve in it. Can a saturated solution of sodium chloride dissolve any Epsom salts? Can a saturated solution of Epsom salts dissolve any sodium chloride? How does solubility vary with temperature? How does solubility vary with the surface area of the solute? Design experiments to find out! (Gardner, 1999, 16-17, Stretton, 2004) Read more
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In this project you'll make a liquid that will contradict your expectations. Hold it loosely in your hand and it will drip off your fingers, but grab it tightly and it will feel solid. Slap a bowl of it with a spoon, and instead of splattering, it solidifies. Do background research on colloids, and be sure you can explain the following terms: colloid, Newtonian fluid, non-Newtonian fluid, thixotropic. (For instructions on how to make it see the link listed under Exploratorium, 1998, in the… Read more
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Science Fair Project Idea
Some plastics undergo an unusual transition, from a hard, glassy state to a soft, rubbery state, with increased temperature. For this project, you should do background research on the effects of temperature on different types of plastics. Make sure that you understand the difference between thermosetting and thermoplastic polymers. You should also look for information on the glass transition temperature (Tg) for different plastics. Pure polyvinyl acetate has a Tg of 28 C (about… Read more
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Science Fair Project Idea
Disposable diapers contain a polymer, called sodium acrylate, which is useful for absorbing water. Do background research to learn about sodium acrylate, and how it reacts with water. Make sure that you understand the terms hydrophilic, polarity and hydrogen bonding. Cut out the middle, padded section of a disposable diaper. Cut this into equally-sized square pieces, approximately 10-12 cm on a side. Remove some of the stuffing material so that you can staple the open ends closed. … Read more
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Here's a chemistry project for a beginning scientist. You'll need two 100 ml graduated cylinders, rubbing alcohol, water and liquid food dye. (You can make your own measuring cylinder from a recycled jar: tape a vertical label on the jar and carefully add water 1/4-cup at a time; mark the level on the label with each addition.) Measure 50 ml of water. Add a drop or two of food coloring and mix. In the second cylinder, measure 50 ml of rubbing alcohol. Carefully pour this… Read more
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Free science fair projects.