3rd Annual Demo Show at the UMass Amherst Chemistry Department
People often talk about “chemicals” in our food, water, or hygiene products in reference to possibly toxic or carcinogenic ingredients. Some chemicals certainly are dangerous to humans, but EVERYTHING is made up of chemicals! But what is the exact definition of a chemical, anyway? The Merriam-Webster definition of “chemical,” reads: A substance obtained by a chemical process or producing a chemical effect. And chemistry is the study of how chemicals interact and react with one another.
Here Hank Green gives us a “crash course” in chemistry with a series of fast pace, educational videos:
Cooking is often used as an example of an everyday activity which involves chemistry. When you apply heat to a piece of steak in a pan, water content leaves the muscle fibers. This is why the fillet is smaller after it has been cooked. Think about some other interesting reactions which occur in the kitchen. Why does corn pop? Another way to ask this question would be, why don’t other grains pop? Corn contains water, which turns to steam, creating pressure inside the hard outer shell and eventually exploding.
What do these reactions look like close up? The web site, www.beautifulchemistry.net has amazing videos of reactions, like this one:
Another chemical reaction you have probably witnessed is combustion. This occurs when you strike a match. Flames, the visible part of fire, are produced at the ignition point. Flames consist of carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen and nitrogen. Another common chemical reaction is oxidation. Tarnished silver, rust on a bicycle, and discoloration in some spoiled meats are all results of oxidation.
Taking a closer and more analytical look at everyday chemical reactions can be interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the more elaborate and engaging demonstrations which are going to be put on by the UMass Amherst Department of Chemistry, Friday, May 13th at 7pm. Young scientists, roughly between the ages of five and seventeen, are invited to watch fascinating chemical reactions and engage in some hands-on learning projects. For more information or to RSVP, contact Raina Kittilstved at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please RSVP by May 11th. This event will take place in the Umass Integrated Sciences Building, Room 135. 661 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)