Youth Media vs Chemistry!

Dr Alan McCue from the University of Aberdeen visits shmu

Our Youth Media Team were recently visited by Dr Alan McCue from the University of Aberdeen in partnership with the Curiosity Fund during British Science Week! The group got to watch multiple chemistry demonstrations, film them and speak about it on their radio show.  

Check out the video, then read on to find out what some of the group thought of it all...

Here's what some of the group had to say about the experience: 

Participant 1: 

"I believe you'll agree with me when I say that seeing an actual scientist demonstrate experiments is very cool and while it's not something you'll see very often, that's exactly what YRP experienced just last Tuesday.  

"When we arrived at the shmu building, we met a university scientist. He was really nice, and once everyone had calmed down, he began to demonstrate the tests to us. The 'Traffic Light Experiment' was one of the first experiments he demonstrated.  

"The Traffic Light Experiment is a chemical reaction that causes boiling water to change colour from green to red to yellow when mixed with a material called 'indigo carmine.' It starts off as an extremely dark, hazy green, nearly black in appearance.  

"However, after a few minutes of sitting, it gets more translucent and gradually changes colour to red. If you leave it for any longer, it will become yellow. It's both beautiful and entertaining to see. Also, if you shake the flask containing the liquid, the reaction reverses and returns to a deep, dark green. It then repeats and changes colour once more. This experiment taught me a little about indigo carmine and how it works!  

"The "Sweet Fire" experiment was another one we got to see. Basically, you combine sugar, potassium and water in this experiment. It creates a purple flame that rises from the test tube (due to the potassium) and melts the sugar, resulting in smoke and steam. But what makes this smoke and steam unique is that it smells incredible, almost like you're in a sweet factory. To put it another way, it smelled exactly like candy floss. This experiment was amazing to see because, first, the purple flame was gorgeous, and second, the smell was incredible.  

"The "Rainbow Fire" was the third experiment we saw! The three pans on a table were one of the first items we saw when we walked into the room. For a long time, I couldn't figure out what it was for until we were told about this experiment. In short, each pan held a different chemical. Copper was found on the left one. Strontium Chloride was in the centre, and Sodium Chloride was on the right (table salt). They were all contaminated with boric acid in some way.  

"After that, we turned off the lights and lit the pans. The fire in the left pan was faint and green, while the fires in the middle and right pans were powerful and red and yellow respectively. It was incredible. Not only that, it gave me a better understanding of how fireworks function! The same chemicals are used to colour them.  

"To sum up, it was a highly enjoyable, interesting, and fascinating event to participate in. We had a lot of laughs, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. It would be awesome to repeat this, as it encouraged numerous people to learn more about science and chemistry." 

Participant 2: 

"I am going to talk about some of the experiments that young people took part in at shmu on Tuesday the 15th of March, specifically the one which I took part in.  

"The experiment which I took part in involved what many people know as elephant toothpaste. 

"The experiment was carried out in two containers, one which had a chemical which would speed up the reaction and one which didn't. 

"The two containers contained Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2). Sodium Iodide (NaI) was added causing a reaction which was a foamy substance. 

The experiment was very fun to take part in and the guest who had come in was very nice and helpful."