Friday, October 21, 2011

DIY Science @ Home: Gases

Last month Scooter's class was studying the States of Matter.  You know...solids, liquids, and gases.  Let's not make it complicated with the plasma and stuff.

My kids love "to do science," so the science teacher mom in me set about to have a little fun with gases with my kids.  And yes....we did end up talking about the gas your body makes and how it leaves the body.  Good times.

You might also be interested in my DIY Science @ Home: Dissolve and Evaporate.  They're kinda related.

Remember...I keep this pretty simple for the little ones.

We talk about what solids, liquids, and gases are.  I have the kids give me some examples.

Solid:  It holds its shape. It's stuck the way it is (the molecules can't move positions).  You can hold it.
Liquid: It takes the shape of the container it is in.  They are hard to compress (or squeeze together).  It will usually flow together or through something (the molecules are more spread out than a solid and can move around).
Gas: It will take the shape of any container it is in and fill it entirely.  The are easy to compress (or squeeze together).  Gases are always bouncing around since the molecules are spread out even farther than a liquid and are full of energy.  We talked about water vapor and how that's a gas and you can kinda see it.

You can get more information by just searching the web or going to the library.  We checked out a few books from our local library since we're there once a week.  Here are a couple of web resources:
Chem4Kids: Matter
Scholastic States of Matter
TLC Science Projects

We did a couple of experiments with gases.

1) Blow up balloons.  My kids weren't real good at blowing them up, so I ended up blowing balloons up for them to play with.  I used fresh balloons, not the spit slobbered ones my kids tried.  Ewww.  Ask the kids what is filling up the balloon.

2) Gases in liquids.  We compared regular tap water to "bubbly" water.  Put some of each type of water in glass cups.  Add a couple of raisins to each cup.  Ask the kids why the raisins dance in the bubbly water cup and not in the regular water cup.  (As the gas bubbles attach to the raisin, they make it rise to the top, once the bubbles reach the surface they pop and then the raisin falls back to the bottom only to repeat that again.)  Let the kids drink some bubbly water.

3) Make gas with a reaction and prove it.  Put some baking soda in a bottle with a neck.  Add some vinegar.  Put a balloon over the neck of the bottom and watch as it blows up.  Fun stuff.  Totally amazes the kids.

4) Blow a wad of paper into a bottle trick.  This is pretty advanced.  I used this with my 9th grade physical science students when we studied pressure and it was so much fun.  Kids always think they can blow a piece of paper into a bottle.  Put a small piece of wadded up paper into the neck of a bottle and ask if anyone can blow it into the bottle.  ( can't be done.)  I always got the big burly kid who thought he could blow it in, even after watching other people not get it in.  I did this with my kids for fun, without getting into an air pressure discussion.  I got a movie of it and shut it off before my son gave a brilliant answer.  Bummer.  But he said you can't get the paper into the bottle because it's already full of air or gas.  Smart kid.  Watch the video and then go try this on someone else...even your co-workers.

So...go have some fun with gases.  Any other gas experiments that you like?


  1. thanks, love the blowing the paper in the bottle... a good simple visual for my spec ed gr 8 science class!

    1. You're welcome! The paper in the bottle is a fun demo, glad you enjoyed it!


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