As a little kid Wylie experimented constantly. Every day involved some kind of science experiment, sometimes from a book, though often of his own design. “We” (I did all of the writing) kept a lab book and recorded each of his experiments, procedure through results. It was a major part of his homeschooling. These days most of his experimenting takes the form of online coding work, or electrical projects in his room, which I seldom see.
Yesterday he was at it again. Such fun to see his creative mind at work.
The inspiration for this experiment was in the Chemistry book we’re using, “The Elements” by Ellen Johnston McHenry. The experiment was to put two, double pointed pencils into water, electrify them, and observe. We did that. (Here is a great write up about the experiment that we found afterward) Then, of course Wylie had to know–where’s that Hydrogen going? Couldn’t we catch it and use it? What is hydrogen good for? Isn’t it flammable? (read, “couldn’t I make it blow up?”) So, he scrounged through the cupboards and came up with the materials he needed to capture the elements from water as they were separated through electrolysis. Pretty smart this kid. He labeled the balloons so he’d know which was hydrogen and which was pure oxygen. But, then we read online that chlorine would be a likely by-product from the salts in most water. We couldn’t figure out which pencil would be collecting the chlorine (the anode or cathode?) I guess that’s a question for our next science session, “Compounds, and how they bond”.
The results? The balloons each gathered a bit of gas, but not enough to capture and use. No explosions yesterday.
(Though today he was exploding tiny transistors.)