Kitchen Chemistry

For this project, we were tasked with using a recipe to create a masterpiece of culinary art. We were permitted to work in groups with other people. I found myself working with fellow sophomore Anna K. Together, we cooked a batch of “vegetarian” cupcakes. Using a variety of vegetarian substitutes and no eggs or milk, we baked up tray of fluffy cupcakes. Following the “hands-on” section of this lab, we compiled a video of our work in the kitchen and presented it in a PowerPoint presentation along with the written part of the project. The presentation detailed the parts of chemistry that we encountered in the making of the cupcakes. This project was a great insight into the way that chemistry is in every part of our lives, from morning until night, from sleep to exercise, from computers to plants.

Pop Rockets

Pop Rockets was one of many optional projects in our studies of the relationships of pressure and volume. The activity tasked us to combine baking soda and vinegar in a film canister. The result was an explosive “pop” when the pressure inside the film canister grew too great for the lid to contain. With the pop, the canister lid flew off at a high velocity. Using video recordings, we compared the results of various quantities of baking soda and vinegar. As with our Kitchen Chem project, we assembled the videos, information, and results into a presentation. We were required to explain the various concepts involved with the reaction and subsequent explosion to the class.

Element Research

When we first began studying the periodic table, we covered each of the major "blocks" of the table and studied the special features and characteristics of each block. Then, students were placed in groups to create presentations on certain blocks or elements from the table. I worked with Laura U, Eric N, and Kevin T together to create a presentation on representative elemnts from the Lanthanides and Actinides series at the bottom of the periodic table. The Lanthanides and Actinides series include many unstable elements used in applications ranging from nuclear weapons to nuclear energy to smoke detectors. It includes many of the most dangerous, radioactive elements that emit generous amounts of alpha, beta, and gamma rays.

Natural pH Indicator

A piece of red cabbage showing the spiral. To augment our studies about pH and pH indicators towards the end of the year, we conducted a small lab using a cabbage juice as a natural pH indicator. With a microtray full of various solutions, we created a color coded chart listing the colors of several different pHs per their reaction with the cabbage juice. Because of pigments called anthocyanins that occur naturally in certain plants, the solutions changed into a variety of colors from red to purple to green. In class, Ms. Vo, the chemistry teacher, demonstrated how natural pH indicators could change the colors of certain flowers through a wide spectrum from white to deep red and back to white. It was also demonstrated that a paper soaked in the cabbage juice indicator could be used to create artwork by adding various solutions with different pHs, according to the color that their reaction with the indicator would produce.