Science Sunday: Cloud Formation: Make Your Own Cloud! demonstration

One very fun and unexpected event happened while we were doing our What Combustion Needs demonstration and I thought that it merited a post of its own. To review what we did in the demonstrations, for the first one, we just lit a candle and then put the glass upside down over the candle so that it covers the candle completely.
As expected, the candle went out and we noticed that water vapor condensed on the inside of the glass. I expected this, but didn't make too much of it at the time as I planned to go over this when we next talked about the products of combustion.
Then we did the second demonstration in which we put the cup of vinegar into the bowl.

We then placed the candle in the candleholder into the bowl and lit the candle.
Next, we slowly sprinkled baking soda into the vinegar, all around the candle so that the bubbles surrounded the candleholder.
As we expected, the air that was in the bowl was pushed out by the carbon dioxide, and since combustion needs the oxygen in the air, the flame went out.
Lastly, we tried relighting the candle but when we moved the match towards the candle, the match went out. Even though the foaming of the vinegar and baking soda had stopped, the carbon dioxide stayed in the bowl for quite a while and continued to extinguish matches.
It took about five minutes before we were able to relight the candle.
 But, here is where the unexpected thing happened, which on retrospect, I feel I should have anticipated. Between when the first attempt to re-light the candle and the time in which the candle actually was able to re-light, I had let the boys try lighting the candle as many times as they wanted to, which for my boys was about once every five seconds (no, I am not exaggerating). It was pretty quick into this process that suddenly dense water vapors, or a cloud began to form.

  No, that isn't just smoke from the matches, although there is a little of it in the clouds because in order for clouds to form, there has to be particles in the air. Cloud formation is caused when water vapor, air pressure and something for the water droplets to condense on come together.
 The water vapor was around because it was a bi-product of the combustion from the candle and the matches. The smoke from the matches created a medium for the water droplets to condense and lastly, the change in air pressure was caused by the variance in the relative densities of the carbon dioxide from the vinegar-baking soda reaction with that of the ambient air.
 According to Wikipedia, at standard temperature and pressure, the density of carbon dioxide is around 1.98 kg/m3, about 1.67 times that of air, which is also why the carbon dioxide hung so low in the bowl for so long. A drop in air pressure was the third factor that was needed for the clouds to form.
Cloud in a Bottle demonstration
We have seen this sort of combination occur before when we did the Cloud in a Bottle demonstration, but this Combustion demonstration outdid the Cloud in a Bottle by far, with it's long lasting and dramatic clouds. Since I have not heard of anyone doing a cloud demonstration in this way, I am not sure whether there were other factors that came into play (such as the pressure of the air on that day, or the amount of moisture that was in the air that day) or whether this is a pretty reliable way of students observing cloud formation. 
I would be thrilled to hear if any of you try this demonstration what your results were.


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Happy May Day!



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April 24-30 Our Homeschool Weekly Report, week 26: You don't have to follow the schedule!

April 24-30, 2015
We are coming down the last stretch before the performance of the play we have been working on once a week since October, so life has been pretty busy. We all have been fighting head colds this week and so our energy levels have been low as well, so we have not accomplished much above what we needed to get done. 
On Friday and Wednesday we had play rehearsals. Wednesday's was the first time we have been able to rehearse at the actual stage we are using, and of course, all the newness made the actors forget some of what they had down previously, such as their lines. We have another rehearsal this week coming before the performance, so hopefully, we will be able to shake out all of the bugs. We also purchased the last plants for Katie's garden this year and she planted them as soon as we got home. On Saturday we went to a birthday party.

We had our weekly dinner and game night with friends on Monday. On Tuesday and Thursday Steven had physical therapy for a back problem which was caused by his broken leg a few years ago. He is doing well with it and it has relieved most, if not all, of his back pain.
week 26

We began our study of the Normans and the Norman Conquest, which I had originally thought would take only one week, but is turning out to be an in-depth study, for which I am very pleased. If I had only one piece of advise to give new homeschoolers it would be not to get caught up by the schedule. It is far better to do a more in-depth study than to just be able to check the study off a list as being done.

I will post about our study when it is completed.

When we did the demonstration about combustion, we had a surprising result, and so we had to pursue that before we went on with our schedule. I will tell you more about that on Sunday with the Science Sunday post.
We completed our English lessons, but math took a backseat this week, but that is okay as we have started on next year's work anyway.

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Science Sunday: What Combustion Needs

Simple Demonstration

For this demonstration, all you need is a small candle, such as a tealight, a match and a glass that will cover the candle.
Light the candle. 
Now put the glass upside down over the candle so that it covers the candle completely.
Watch the candle for a minute or two. Note what happens.
The flame should slowly dim until it goes out.

Why did this happen?

Combustion reaction occurs when a flammable material is burned. The wax in the candle was the flammable material in this demonstration. But combustion also requires oxygen. When the glass was put over the candle, the oxygen in the air surrounding the candle could not be replenished and so when the oxygen was used up, combustion could no longer occur and the flame went out.

More Complex Demonstration

For this demonstration, you will need a few more materials: a bowl that is deep enough so that when the candle is placed at the bottom of the bowl, the sides of the bowl are well above the flame of the candle; a cup-like candleholder; one cup of vinegar and one Tablespoon of baking soda.
Put the cup of vinegar into the bowl.

Place the candle in the candleholder into the bowl. The vinegar should surrounds the candle, but the candle should be taller than the height of the vinegar. The sides of the bowl should also be significantly taller than the level of the candle. Now light the candle.
Slowly sprinkle the baking soda into the vinegar, making sure that it lands in the vinegar and not into the candle. Distribute the baking soda all around the candle so that the bubbles surround the candleholder. Watch what happens to the candle.
When the baking soda and the vinegar mix, a chemical reaction occurs that produces carbon dioxide gas and this gas begins to fill up the bowl, pushing the air that was in the bowl out. Since the air was pushed out by the carbon dioxide, and since combustion needs the oxygen in the air, the flame goes out.
Now, try relighting the candle. When you strike the match outside of the bowl, the match lights, but when you move the match towards the candle, the match goes out. Even though the foaming of the vinegar and baking soda had stopped, the carbon dioxide stayed in the bowl for quite a while and continued to extinguish matches.
It took about five minutes before we were able to relight the candle.

Combustion requires something to burn and oxygen.


sources and resources:
  • Exploring Creation with General Science, Jay Wile



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April 17-23 Our Homeschool Weekly Report, week 25

April 17-23 

We rehearsed our play. We worked on props for it as well.

We went on a big shopping trip with everyone. Some the above pictures are from the restaurant we had lunch at. Katie is working on her applique project, Alex is working on his iPad and the boys are putting together their Lego kits.

We enjoyed the company of friends over to our home.
week 25

We started next year's math. Quentin reviewed place value into the billions. James is working on Pre-Algebra skills and Sam is working on Algebra II.

We finished up our study of the Vikings and are moving on to the Normans.
We reviewed South, Central and North America and learned about Costa Rica and celebrated with a Costa Rican dinner.
We read books. James and Quentin are reading Viking Adventure. We finished up The Rocket Boys by Homer Hickman. (The book October Sky was made from.)
We had planned to launch our model rockets but it was too windy on the day we had planned, so we are putting it off until after the play, or mid-May.
We completed some science demonstrations about combustion.


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History and Geography Meme 161: The Vikings

Early Middle Ages: The Vikings

This week we looked at the Vikings.
Quentin's (age 10) notebook, with notes of his narrations.
The word "viking" means to go raiding, which tells a lot about them as people. Despite the fact that many were farmers and tradesmen, their were many who went raiding.
Quentin's (age 10) notebook, with notes of his narrations.
There were basically three groups of Norsemen (Northmen) -Norwegian, Danish and Swedish. The Danes and Norwegians traveled mostly south across the North Sea, attacking Britain, Ireland and other parts of Europe. The Swedes, on the other hand, moved across the Baltic into Russia, and some went as far as Baghdad. They attacked Constantinople four times and some became men for the Byzantine Emperor's elite Varangean guard.
The Vikings were allowed to settle in Normandy on the condition that they swear fealty to the French king and become his vassals.
James' (age 14) notebook page.

We reviewed the Norse gods and they practiced reading and writing in runes. 

Sources and Resources:
  • Viking Raiders, Usborne Time Traveler series
  • Beorn the Proud,  Polland

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World Geography and Culture: The Americas: Costa Rica


We learned about Costa Rica and its unique political and physical environments.
source
"More than a quarter of Costa Rica is protected natural wilderness...
source
The rain forest comes right down to the ocean. and here, looking back up the vastness of the green forest...
source
 or gazing out across the endless blue sea, we truly appreciated the blissful remoteness of our position and, 
source
and as a pair of toucans glided overhead, the privilege of experiencing nature so unspoiled."
World Food Cafe, Chris and Carolyn Caldicott
After our book and map study of the country...
we looked at all the beautiful fruits that come from this area of the world...
 and then we went about making two Costa Rican dishes...
 Crunchy Salad with Lime Juice
"This fresh-tasting salad, with its sweet-and-sour mixture of fruit and vegetables, is typical of the dishes...on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica."
Look at all the beautiful, colorful spices in this dish.
We also made Caribbean Vegetables in a Mustard, Coconut and Rum Sauce...
 which has fried plantains on it.