Tag Archives: Experiment

Atmosphere and Gases Hands-on Exploration of Science

Atmosphere and Gases is one of our most popular activities we offer at AstroCamp! Gases (including the atmosphere around us) can serve as a great vehicle to explore a variety of scientific concepts in exciting and novel ways. This activity is full of science supplies that create an experience you can’t find in most school classrooms, or create at home. 

Atmosphere and Gases

For starters, campers can see the characteristics of air around us using a vacuum chamber. Turning on the vacuum chamber sucks out air, which creates less air pressure. Explore the effect of decreasing pressure by putting objects like balloons, water, and marshmallows in the vacuum chamber. Explore a gas we’re around every day: carbon dioxide. But, instead of a gas, students will interact with its solid state of matter, also known as dry ice. States of matter can be connected to temperature, as campers get up close to dry ice in a safe environment. See what carbon dioxide smells like and connect it to carbonation! Talk about phase transitions, and using sublimating dry ice in water is a great chance to see density in action.

bubble density surprise (1)

And things can get even cooler than dry ice! Use liquid nitrogen to super-cool objects like pennies or balloons, eat chips, or even talk about flow rate. The last leg of Atmosphere and Gases guides campers through an experiment, discovering properties of gases like hydrogen and helium. Witness the flammable nature of hydrogen first hand!

hydrogen experiment explosion (1)

Atmosphere and Gases is a valuable chance to interact with the world and make a connection to concepts they’ll see everyday, in a dramatic and memorable format that they’ll carry with them. Atmosphere and Gases is a favorite that we love offering during both school year and summer. 

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!


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!