Experimenting

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.)

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5 thoughts on “Experimenting

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  1. We were blowing up balloons with the CO2 released from mixing vinegar and baking soda in a bottle this week. We then noted that the CO2 filled balloon was much heavier than an air filled balloon. That led to us pulling out the periodic table poster and a discussion on atomic weight and the mass of different compounds based on their component elements. Audrey was quite intrigued and I recalled just how much I loved Chemistry in college, though I could definitely use a refresher. I love that you kept a lab notebook in the early years. We have done that in the past, but not so much recently. You should encourage him to keep his own one now too, if he doesn’t already.

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  2. Oh, and I was just reading about some new technology for Hydrogen containment and transport. Apparently since Hydrogen is the smallest molecule in the universe it is very difficult to contain and store. Maybe that was your problem.

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  3. Woohoo! Science experiments are so much fun, especially when you can go off on rabbit trails that you think of yourself and that teach you more on the certain subject. Chemistry is so cool… 🙂
    Squid

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