Friday, March 21, 2014

This is a new post in my Think Like a Scientist series. I must be very successful in “discovery” experiments, because my 7 year old cannot get enough of them. This time we explored an unknown liquid.

Discover Chemistry of Iodine #smartmarch #chemistryforkids

Setting Up an Experiment

Setting Up to Discover an Unknown Liquid

I set up a liquid discovery experiment with three different types of “white substances” – cornstarch, soda and cream of tartar. I also added several test tubes, water to make solutions, and a brown “unknown liquid” – iodine solution. This time I was hoping not only to show Smarty some spectacular chemical reactions, but also teach her a thing or two about lab techniques.

Learning to Plan an Experiment

Mad Scientist in the House

My daughter immediately wanted to dump some of the unknown liquid into one of the “white stuff” containers, but I stopped her and pointed out that this will immediately “contaminate” her substance. We talked about setting aside some part of the substance for experimenting or making a solution of “white stuff”. She chose to make a solution and then see if each of white substances dissolves in water and how they will interact with “brown stuff”.

Describe the Results

Starch and Tartar

Eventually Smarty went wild in her testing and started dumping her unknown liquid into our containers. She discovered that starch turned very dark purple, while cream of tartar turned bright orange. She could guess already by that time that her unknown liquid was iodine solution, since it has a distinctive smell, and we use iodine solution for making a gargle for sore throats (a remedy that I myself experienced from my childhood back in the Soviet Union).

Think of What You Can Do with the Results

Iodine Paintings

Smarty was very interested to try her mixtures as paints. She thought that her paintings were very “artsy”, and it was interesting to see differences in color from different mixtures.

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Your Turn

How do you teach your children simple lab techniques?

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Ticia said...

I have to admit I'd be like Smarty and want to just dump it all together, which I'm fairly sure is what I did the chemistry set I received in 5th grade.

Alicia said...

Great exploration!

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Do you know why the iodine turns orange in cream of tartar? That isn't a reaction I've seen before.

My kids love playing with iodine. I never heard of using it as a gargle for sore throats, but it makes sense that it would work.

Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

I love how you set this up for her and let her explore the "mystery solution"! So creative that she made some artwork too! :)

Dayna Abraham said...

I love the science! I love how you are having her technique and thinking skills. Great series.

Anonymous said...

whoa that's proper experiment right there!

So awesome my son will love this!