Two Virtual-Friendly Carbonated Chemistry Activities for Brownies

A Guider’s Primer to Carbonated Chemical Reactions

  • Background: Everything in our world is made up of crazy-tiny things called atoms. Atoms are often connected to other atoms to form molecules. For example, a water molecule, H2O is made up of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom, bonded together.
  • What is a Chemical Reaction? It occurs when you mix two different kinds of molecules together to make one or more new kinds of molecules. A very simple explanation is that you’re mixing two things together to make something new.
  • How do I know if I’m Making a Chemical Reaction? You can often tell chemical reactions are happening when you see bubbles, feel a temperature difference, notice an odour or watch a colour change.
  • These two activities will demonstrate 2 exciting reactions to make a carbon dioxide gas.

Fizzy Balloon

Brownies can watch a bubbly chemical reaction inflate a balloon with invisible CO2.

Materials

Pick Up Kit

  • Medium-sized Balloon
  • Empty 16 oz soda or water bottle
  • 80 ml vinegar
  • 3 tsp baking soda

At Home Materials

  • Spoon
  • Safety glasses/sun glasses (on the off chance the vinegar splashes up toward little eyes)
  • Large tray to work on to minimize mess (optional)

What To Do

  1. Pour the vinegar into the bottle.
  2. Hold the mouth of the balloon open and use a spoon to pour the baking soda into the balloon (it helps to have a second pair of hands to hold the balloon open).
  3. Carefully shake the baking soda down into the belly of the balloon. Then, carefully stretch the mouth of the balloon completely over the mouth of the bottle. Keep the belly of the balloon off to one side so that the baking soda doesn’t get dumped until you’re ready.
  4. Holding the mouth of the balloon on bottle, shake the soda into the bottle all at once.

What to Talk About

  • The scientific name of baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. White vinegar is called acetic acid. I encourage my Brownies to say big strange words when we encounter them. When these two chemicals are mixed together the will have a chemical reaction. They react to form some new chemicals, including carbon dioxide gas. The gas inflates the balloon. We know a chemical reaction is happening because we can observe bubbles forming, the bottle feels cold, and the balloon inflates!
  • Encourage your Brownies to make observations:
    • What do they observe with their eyes? (the bubbles forming, the balloon blowing up)
    • What do they observe with their hands? (feel the bottle, is it cold, warm or hot?)
    • Do they think they still have vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in the bottle/balloon or did they make something totally different? (they made something totally different)
    • Let’s wonder if there is any other method that could be used to create carbon dioxide. Have they ever heard that word before?
      • Many other living organisms, including humans, produce carbon dioxide gas when they break down nutrients. Its okay to engage in talks about burping and farting here, it’s science!
    • Could you do a similar experiment using baker’s yeast, sugar and water to inflate the balloon? (yes you can! It will take a little longer though, but it is fun to do if you want to mimic the body’s process a little more).

Frankenworms

Bring gummy worms to “life” with this exciting chemical reaction.

Materials

Pick up Kit

  • Gummy worm candy, 2 per Brownie.
    • The Gummy worms will need to be cut up. The thinner the better. Depending on your Brownies, you may want to do this step for them.
  • 3 tbsp baking soda
  • White vinegar

At home materials

  • Scissors
  • 1 Cup warm water
  • Fork
  • Jar or clear drinking glass

What To Do

  1. Using the scissors, make super-skinny gummy worms by cutting them lengthwise into long strips. Do this at least four times. The skinnier your worms, the better this will work.
  2. Mix the baking soda with the warm water. Stir well. Drop your skinny gummy worms into the baking soda solution and let them soak for 15-20 minutes.
  3. While your worms are soaking, fill a clear glass jar with vinegar.
  4. When your 20 minutes are finished, fish the gummy worms out of the baking soda solution with a form and drop them into the glass of vinegar. Watch them “come to life”!

What to Talk About

  • The gummy worms float and move as the acetic acid (vinegar) in the cup reacts with the sodium bicarbonate they’re soaking in to form carbon dioxide gas bubbles. The gas bubbles are less dense than the vinegar and will float to the surface, pulling the worms with them. This makes the gummy worms wriggle until the chemical reaction stops.
  • Ask your Brownies if they reeeeeeally think their gummy worms are alive. What makes something alive?
  • What do they observe that tells them a chemical reaction is taking place? What can they observe with their eyes? They will see that the vinegar starts bubbling and that the worms start to move.
  • Does anyone know why this might not work very well with full-sized gummy worms? (they are too heavy for the gas bubbles to float them up)
  • Let’s wonder what else we could bring to life with this chemical reaction.

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