The first day approaches . . . Last Year

So the first day of school is just over two weeks away. As a private school we tend to start later than others. So it’s been nice to see the interesting first day activities that others are trying. In the past, I have used the first day to get the kids excited through a series of demos that we would revisit later in the year. Last year, we started on a Thursday and a Friday. And the days went like this:

Day 1: Color Day

Demo 1: Magic “Welcome to Chemistry” banner with phenolphthalein and windex.

Demo 2: Disappearing PbI2 tornado demo.

In this demo, we add drops of potassium iodide to a solution of stirring lead (II) nitrate. A beautiful yellow precipitate will briefly appear before dissipating. More on this demo can be seen here.

Demo 3: Milk of Magnesia – Indicator demo

When an acid is added to the milk of magnesia solution, the indicator will change color. But as more magnesium hydroxide dissolves to replace that which was neutralized, the indicator switches back. See it here.

Demo 4: Flame test

In this demo, I placed a small amount of a variety of salts in different watch glasses. To each watch glass, I add a small amount of methanol and light it on fire. Depending on the salt, the flame takes on a different color.

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