Why the Tree of Life?

10.23.2011

Making Hydrogen

We're officially on break this month, and just got back from spending 10 days in Williamsburg, VA and Washington, DC. We had a wedding in the middle of those 10 days, but took the opportunity to see some interesting things while we were in the area. More on that in a later post (hopefully).

Before we left though, we made hydrogen. And it was pretty cool. Cool enough to share, because it made a big boom.

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

This is an amazing book. Chemistry was just about my least favorite subject in school. I had no idea what we were doing. But this book has all of us excited about the elements of the world around us. It does a great job of bringing chemistry out of the abstract and into the real world. This is a must have book for the homeschool. It's, of course, over the three year old's head, but Dunagan (the six year old) likes it nearly as much as Kirven.

Since we have been enjoying it so much, I decided, hey, let's see if we can do any experiments with single elements. Turns out, there aren't many safe ones, but there are a few. One experiment was to make homemade hydrogen using instructions at Theodore Gray's website. It was easy and fun to do, but please *do* read the instructions all the way through.

As a general rule, with anything involving electricity or fire, I require Daddy to be present. I tend *not* to read instructions all the way through. I am usually so excited and ready to get to the "boom," that I just skim through the blah, blah, blah, and get the gist of things. The drawback to this approach is beautifully illustrated by this scenario that actually occurred:

(After two failed attempts to get our collected hydrogen to ignite)

Me: Why do we have to hold the cup in the water? It seems like we would collect more gas if we hold the cup at the surface.

Evan: Did you not read the instructions all the way through?

Me: (silence)

Evan: *IF* you have read the instructions all the way through, you would know that he specifically said NOT to do that.

Me: Oh?---- Why?

Evan: Because the hydrogen mixed with oxygen is *too* explosive.

Me: Ah.

Me: I still think it would work better. Are you sure you don't want to try it?

Evan: No.

Me: Killjoy.

Kirven: I think Dad's right, Mom.

Me: Ok, I think we've got enough in the cup, let's try again.

Evan: Ok.

Evan lights the lighter and brings it up to the cup, and I carefully tip the cup up, and BOOM. Big surprising BOOM.

Me: WHOA! Ok, you were right. Anything bigger would have been singed eyebrows.

Evan: (smug smile) Uh huh.

So, as you can see, it is best if we have Evan-supervision on these types of projects since he takes instructions more to heart than I do. In fact, it's more his rule than mine that he is present, but it's a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. You sound like the one we'd want at a party, though!

    ReplyDelete