Friday, June 17, 2011

Family Science Night - CO2

CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) is a naturally occurring gas that is consumed by plants and trees along with water and sunlight to produce oxygen. Kids can easily see water and sunlight but since CO2 is an invisible gas and it is a harder concept to grasp. These science experiments will help them to see how CO2 is real even though you can not see it.

CO2 is found in the air and is absorbed by the leaves of a plant. Sunlight is then needed to power the process of photosynthesis. The energy absorbed from sunlight moves the water that the plant has absorbed through the plant by capillary routes. Capillaries are small tubes much like our veins that run through the plants system.

Several things that we discussed during these experiments were about plant health and our body. We went outside and looked at some of our plants. Most plants looked healthy and happy but due to the high temperatures and no natural rainfall the Hydrangea looked a bit droopy and needed a good drink. We related this to when we are outside playing and need to stay hydrated also. We went ahead and watered the Hydrangea and then went inside to get a drink for ourselves. Later we went back out and the Hydrangea looked much happier.

Experiment #1 - What are capillaries?

Food Color

We cut 3 pieces of celery from the bunch and laid them to the side. Next we added water in equal amounts to three containers. The first container we left as just regular water, the second container we added blue food coloring and we added red food coloring to the final container.

Once the coloring had been mixed in, we added one celery stalk to each container.
It is hard to tell in the pictures but the celery veins did change colors.

Experiment #2 - What is CO2?

2 empty water bottles
baking soda

Put one inch of water in one water bottle and one inch of vinegar in the other. Put one teaspoon of baking soda in each balloon. I used a small funnel and stretched the balloon over the neck of the funnel to add the baking soda. Take your first balloon and stretch the mouth of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle with just water in it. Lift up the bottom of the balloon to shake the baking soda into the water. Watch closely and discuss what happens.

You will see that nothing happened as the water does not contribute to the production of CO2. Now take your second balloon and stretch it over the mouth of the bottle with vinegar in it. Lift up the bottom of the balloon to shake the baking soda into the water. Watch closely and discuss what happens.

You will see that the balloon begins to inflate. It looks like magic but it is really CO2 that is escaping from the vinegar and the baking soda combining. The acid from the vinegar reacts with the sodium bicarbonate found in the baking soda and forms a carbonic acid. The bubbles that form are the CO2 leaving the solution.

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