On October 14, Ms. Bree Mireau’s Science Honours 10 students took a field trip to the SFU campus to observe experiments performed by chemistry major students. They toured the chemistry wing of the university, and also conducted their own experiments.
Organizing this trip was a bit of a hassle as the trip was cancelled several times, but the university switched it around to make it possible for the students to come.
“Originally it was supposed to be a career focused type component, but I think ours turned out way better. So we ended up going to the “Science in Action SFU outreach,” said Mireau.
Science 10 students have begun a project trying to explain the science behind many magic illusions, and the SFU team further demonstrated how one could do that. “They were trying to demystify the chemistry behind some of the activities, which is similar to our Science is Magic project,” said Mireau.
The Science 10 chemistry unit focuses primarily on how atoms interact to form compounds, and the different outcomes of these different interactions. The experiments demonstrated further illustrated this idea in a more interesting manner.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Caitlin Shyng, grade 10 student. “I got to see things we were learning in real life. Before I had no idea what a precipitate was, but after I was able to actually understand what it looked like.”
The students watched several different types of chemical reactions, such as dry ice rockets, vinegar and baking soda balloons, and hydrogen balloons that erupt into flames when set on fire. These demonstrations were performed by an SFU representative and volunteers. They walked the students through the science and formulas behind the experiments. He also explained how adding dry ice to an acid and base will result in a drastic colour change. This gave the beaker a lava lamp resemblance.
After, the students were able to test substances for pH levels using different indicators in the SFU chemistry laboratory. As a final experiment, the students coated test tubes with thin layers of silver, using silver nitrate, ammonium, and sodium hydroxide.
To finish off the trip, the volunteers showed the students how liquid nitrogen could be used to make ice cream. Using heavy cream, milk and a very large jug of liquid nitrogen, it was easy to create this treat in a very short amount of time.
Mireau hopes that after this trip, students will see that chemistry can be interesting and doesn’t just need to be in a classroom. It can be in a lab and it is a place to be able to take what they learned and apply it in an outside setting.
Photos courtesy of Karolina Mastalerz-Sanchez, Alyson Young, and Sara Parker