Back Away from the Science Experiment

Stat Boy is using Kolbe Academy's physical science curriculum this year. I really want him to enjoy science this year, as well as develop a life long love for it. I felt the best way to accomplish this is by doing as many of the labs from the curriculum as possible. At the beginning of our school year I went through his text and ordered as many of the materials as I could from Home Science Tools. This particular online company carries most lab supplies a home lab might need, including many chemicals.

Stat Boy had a lab yesterday that explored properties of different metals. It involved using hydrochloric acid (gulp). Stat Boy and I set up our test tube rack, test tubes, pipette, etc. and put on our safety gear. I gathered the needed chemicals, only to realize I was missing magnesium. Darn! I really wanted Stat Boy to do this experiment, could we do it without the magnesium? I did have zinc. Maybe I could substitute zinc in our experiment. We performed our test on the required silicon metal chips, which did not react with the hydrochloric acid (it wasn't supposed to). I decided that we should go ahead and try using the zinc. Stat Boy carefully piped hydrochloric acid into the test tube with the zinc and immediately the zinc began to react, bubbling and smoking mildly. The Boy threw up his hands and backed away. I grabbed the test tube, ran outside with it, and turned on the water hose, rinsing the test tube out onto the driveway.

Sounds a bit scary and not so smart, right? After cleaning up our experiment, I did an internet search to see if what I'd done had actually been dangerous. Much to my relief, observing the reaction between zinc and hydrochloric acid is a common experiment and not dangerous. In fact, we could have watched as the zinc was dissolved completely by the acid. Whew! Still, I really should have looked that up before trying it out, right? Anyhoo, now the Boy doesn't trust me at all with chemicals. Who can blame him? I don't quite trust myself either. LOL!


Walter said…
Hey Mau!

Leave it to you to provide a pound of overreaction for an ounce of Zinc! Don't you remember IPS at Northwood? We did the Zinc + HCL experiment more than once! Watch out if you mix baking soda and vinegar...WHAT WILL DO YOU THEN??? Probably call the base bomb squad! You should stick to mixing basic ingredients like 4 tablespoons of sugar + 3 cups of flour + baking soda, baking powder, salt + 3 eggs + butter + buttermilk. Don't call the's Waffle batter! I would start worrying if you decided to mix nitrates with ammonia or fertilizer with manure.

Love Ya Mau!

Tonya said…
Hilarious! And your brother's comments are hilarious too. :-) Never a dull moment in a homeschooling house! Bet Stat Boy never forgets this one. See, you were just making sure he remembered it!

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