Tag Archives: DIY

The Power of Air!

 

How did the can get crushed? You could see in the video it wasn’t pushed in by the tongs, so what did it!? This very simple experiment works because of something called Charles’s Law. Charles’s Law says that a gas will get bigger if it gets hotter, or smaller if it gets colder, as long as the pressure doesn’t change.

One thing that you can’t see in the video is that the water in the can is boiling. This means that the can is full of water vapor that is around 200℉! Next, the can is placed open-side down into a container of cool water, probably about 50℉. Note that we aren’t changing the pressure, so Charles’s Law tells us what happens next. The cold water cools down the water vapor, causing it to contract (and even condense!), but this is not what really crushes the can. The real culprit….is air.

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Air doesn’t seem to weigh anything. We can’t see it, or pick it up and hold it in our hands very well. However, that doesn’t mean it is light! The atmosphere weighs a whopping 6,000,000,000,000,000 tons! The earth is pretty big, but that means that at sea level, there is about 15 pounds of air pushing down on every single square inch!

However, not everything gets crushed by the atmosphere. Your body effortlessly pushes back on the air to not get squished, just like the hot air in the can pushed out to keep the can from imploding. However, when the cold water cooled and contracted the air, there was nothing to push out against the atmosphere, and no way for the atmosphere to get in. So yes, the air just crushed it!

This is a great DIY experiment to do at home or try in class! It requires few materials, and can teach a lot of science! Charles’s Law is a very powerful idea, and is half of the Ideal Gas Law, which is seen in both chemistry and physics classes!

Note that this is the same principle that we used to get our egg into the bottle experiment!

Future of CDs and DVDs

CDs are dying.  It’s an unfortunate but inescapable fact as the world transitions to digital downloading.  But while the end may be in site for CDs and DVDs, it hasn’t come yet.  Before that day actually comes, perhaps we should take a quick look at this awesome technology and how it works.

A CD’s base a a polycabonate plastic material that is transparent.  It provides the structure and protection for the layers above it.  Above the polycabonate is a thin layer of aluminum reflective coating followed by another thin layer of crylic and then the label.  The most important part of a CD is that the polycabonate sheet is imprinted with a series of miniscule bumps.  The details of the bumps is a code that is what stores the data on the disc.  The bumps move outward from the center of the CD in a spiral pattern all the way to the edge.  The CD reader move along this track using a precise laser to detect the changes in the bumps and decode the data stored on the CD.

As CDs become less and less useful, perhaps we need to find other uses for them.  One entertaining DIY science trick we can do is to melt part of the polycarbonate sheet and blow it out to create a giant bubble.  Make sure to scrape off the aluminum sheet or else it won’t expand to its full amount.  Enjoy!

DIY Science Experiment: Egg in a Bottle

You might be asking yourself why you would want to put an egg in a bottle. The answer is, of course, for science! This is a great experiment for explaining the basics of the ideal gas law. Mainly, that gases expand and contract when they change temperature. Here we will explore how to actually do the experiment, and what the science is behind it.

Materials:

  • Peeled hard boiled eggs. Note that if they crack during peeling, they will likely not survive the ordeal!

  • Bottle with a neck smaller than the egg. Erlenmeyer flasks work great!

  • Matches, or a small piece of flammable material

  • Workspace clear of burning hazards

That’s it!

Doing the experiment:

  • Read the steps first. They have to happen quickly!

  • Light a match or something small and flammable. A small piece of paper works great!. In the video, we use four strike-anywhere matches.

  • Drop your flaming object of choice into the flask. With matches, do it quickly! If you wait too long, there wont be enough fire to heat the air!

  • Put the egg on top of the flask so it completely covers the opening. This must be done quickly

  • Watch!

You should see the fire go out and the egg get sucked into the bottle shortly thereafter.

What happened?

The fire rapidly heats the air in the flash. Then, the fire should quickly become starved of oxygen and go out. Once the fire stops and the air begins to cool. The molecules in the gas slow down as it cools, decreasing the pressure inside the flask. The air pressure outside is then greater, and pushes the egg down the seemingly-too-small neck of the bottle. Because the air pushes equally from all sides, the egg stays intact, unlike if you had done it with your hand!

How do I get it out?!

There are three good ways to do this.

  1. Get something pokey, like a butter knife, and chop the egg into bits and dump it out. Messy. Not my favorite.

  2. Blow in behind the egg (like in the video–note, we shook the matches out first for safety). The hot air on your breath should be enough to push it out.

  3. Flip the flask over so the egg covers the opening from within. Run hot tap water over the base of the flask. As the air inside heats up, it pushes the egg out, simply doing the experiment in reverse!

5 Step DIY Tie Dye T-Shirts

DIY Tie Dye shirts are very popular here at AstroCamp especially during summer camp.  We want to take you through the process of making one of these awesome shirts. Only 5 Steps and your done!

Step 1: Make a solution of water and soda ash and soak the T shirt in it for 20 minutes.  The soda ash will bond with the dye and cause it to permanently stick to the fabric.  If you do not have soda ash then baking soda will work as a substitute but your colors won’t be quite as bright.

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Step 2:  Twist and twirl and otherwise be creative with your shirt and rubber band it into place.  Different swirling patterns will change the pattern of the finished product.  This shirt will end up in a bulls eye pattern.

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Step 3:  Apply the dye to the shirt.  The rubber bands can often be good guides for where to stop with one color and start another.

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Step 4: Wrap the shirt in saran wrap and let it sit overnight.  After that rinse and hang the shirt until it is dry and ready to wear!

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Step 5: Show it off to all of your friends!  ENJOY! If you want to do the same process then you can create tie dye pillow cases, bandanas, pants and more. Enjoy!

WELCOME TO ASTRO BLOG

We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampsummer.org for additional information. Happy Reading!

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