I suggested that we do the classic copper and nitric acid demo on the first day as an exciting introduction to chemistry. Caroline jumped on the idea and decided to do it with her classes too. I've done this demo many times without a hitch, so we decided not to try it out before class. Doesn't this sound like the start of every failed demo story?
|We started the demo on the bench, just like I've always done before...|
Caroline and I set the demo up on the lab bench for her A-block class first thing on the first day of school. We decided to do it together the first time through so she could learn how to do the demo. We got the apparatus set up and made the basic solution for bubbling of the brown gas. The first problem we noticed was that the reaction was going too slow. We had the wrong concentration of nitric acid. This demo requires concentrated nitric acid to work. I ran back to the acid cabinet and found the big bottle with the partially corroded label. "Let's try this one, it smoked when I took off the lid. It must be the right stuff." Caroline added the concentrated to the reaction flask causing a vigorous reaction to start right away. Check, this is the strong stuff.
Right away I noticed a big problem: the brown gas started leaking out of the flask rather than bubbling through the solution in the graduated cylinder. We made the decision to relocate the whole thing to the fume hood. Working together, Caroline and I picked up the whole set-up and moved it to one of the hoods, where we conducted the reaction for the rest of the day.
Woodstock Academy is a one-to-one iPad school. Much of my week was spent figuring out how to do all the things I used to do during class with my computer from my new iPad. I made frequent visits to the tech office to tackle technology questions every day this first week. The guys in the office showed great patience with me as I worked through all the stages of the iPad transition. They were also extremely helpful with the adoption of my iBook this year. Getting the iBook ordered and on everyone's iPads turned out to be quite a journey. I learned all about the business office, the tech office, iBooks, Apple's ordering system, and more.
The best part about my week was getting to know my students. These delightful young people are curious and eager to learn.
I started the kids on a lab design activity on the first day. They jumped right into the first experiment in which they designed their own procedure to isolate and measure the mass percent of mixture of sand, salt, and water.
|We decided to move to the fume hood when the brown gas started leaking out of the flask.|
We quickly realized that the tube was clogged. Caroline decided to prep another round bottom flask to run the demo again, meanwhile I cleaned out the tube. Note to self, check the tube next time! (This never happened before, so I didn't think to check the tube.) Our second run worked great and the kids were excited to see the penny react to form many beautiful colors. At the end of the day the three of us had a good long laugh about the crazy start to the day, and our total commitment to making the reaction work.
|The view from inside the fume hood.|
|Taking a photo of the demo with iPad for the write-up.|
|First Day selfie of my A block class.|
|My D-block class, minus many of the international kids who arrived late.|
|My enthusiastic C-Block class, not shy even on day one.|
|We jumped right into a group activity to design an original experiment.|
|Fake cabinets? We found these during the scavenger hunt.|
|It was a scavenger hunt for me too! This was my first look into most of the cabinets.|
|Separating and massing a mixture of sand, salt, and iron.|
|I couldn't resist a first lab day selfie.|
|Serious about evaporating off the water to recover his salt.|
|These beautiful salt crystals formed overnight in the drying oven.|
I ended the week with a fun demonstration of the distillation of cherry coke. The result of the simple distillation also surprises the students. The strong smell of the cherry flavoring in the first fraction is impressive. This demo finished off our discussion of separation techniques and gave us a good platform for discussing physical properties.
|Demonstrating distillation with cherry coke.|
|It took my several days to figure out how to get coffee.|
|This interesting mushroom family was growing right by the parking lot exit.|