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Fun with Carbon Dioxide

Chemistry | 7-14 yrs | Interactive, Learning Pod

Safe and Environmentally friendly Fireworks

Eeshan was looking forward to the evening. Mr Samuel was a very good friend of their parents’ and it was their son Nevin’s 8th birthday party. Eeshan often enjoyed going over to their house and playing in the small front yard with his classmate, Nevin’s older brother Lijo.

“Things seem quieter than I expected,” Eeshan’s dad remarked as they rang the doorbell. When they got inside they understood why. Nevin was slumped in a corner, moody and irritable.

“What’s wrong?” Eeshan’s dad asked Mr Samuel.

“Nevin is throwing a fit,” said Mr Samuel. “Earlier this week, we went to Mr Mathew’s son’s birthday…as you know, they are very rich, so they had a grand party with lots of fancy fireworks. Nevin wanted that for his birthday but it was costly. Also, we want to discourage our children from using things that pollute the environment. But now he’s upset and won’t talk to anyone.”

Eeshan was standing nearby and had overheard the whole conversation. He turned to Lijo, Nevin’s older brother, and said, “Can you do me a favour? Bring all those big bottles of diet coke and those empty film canisters from your room to the front yard. Also get a few fizzy tablets from your dad’s cabinet.”

After all the items had been procured, Eeshan took out a Mentos from his pocket, opened a new Diet Coke bottle, dropped the Mentos into the bottle and ran back. As everyone watched in amazement, a huge geyser of the soft drink came flying out of the bottle. For the first time since the party had started, Nevin smiled and as the geyser continued, the smile slowly became wider and wider.

A throng of people made their way over to where Eeshan was standing and asked him, “How did you make this happen?”

“I didn’t,” Eeshan replied. “Science did. More specifically, carbon dioxide did! We had taken a recent trip to the Coca Cola factory where we learnt that soft drinks have carbon dioxide pumped in them just before bottling which makes them bubbly. In an unopened bottle, there’s a huge amount of carbon dioxide waiting for release. Dropping something into the Diet Coke breaks the surface tension of the liquid and also allows bubbles to form on the surface area of the Mentos. There are little dimples on Mentos, which help many more bubbles than usual form, and that causes an eruption when the bottle is opened.”

As the adults marvelled at Eeshan’s ability to learn theoretical concepts in a classroom and apply them in real life situations, the children settled down for another round of safe and environmentally-friendly fireworks.

For more such interesting chemistry articles and videos, visit: http://mocomi.com/learn/science/chemistry/

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