Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Make a Patriotic Density Column in Honor of the Fourth of July!

Trying to figure out what you're going to do in between the morning parade and the evening fireworks tomorrow? Right before you head out to grill some burgers or join some friends at the park, intrigue your children (and yourself) with a patriotic science lesson!

This July 4th chemistry lesson celebrates America and ends up being a red, white and blue display of density layers. (Note: Kerosene lamp oil is toxic and flammable. Because this experiment includes using kerosene lamp oil, adult supervision is required.)

Here's what you'll need:
  • Milk
  • Red Kerosene Lamp Oil (Sold at your local home improvement store)
  • Light Corn Syrup
  • Blue Food Coloring
  • Clear column or cup
Here's how you'll do it:
  1. Mix blue food coloring into the corn syrup until the desired color is attained.
  2. Slowly pour the same amount of the colored corn syrup, kerosene lamp oil and milk (in any order you wish) into a clear column or cup. Here's a hint: You get minimal mixing by slowly pouring each liquid over the back of a disposable plastic spoon.
  3. Now observe and enjoy! The most dense liquid is at the bottom of the column or cup and the least dense liquid is at the top. Were you predictions about the order of the colors correct?!
To make the density column more exciting, light the top layer (the lamp oil) on fire!

*Fuel kerosene is also sometimes available in a blue color, so if this is what you have, use it and just make the light corn syrup red with food coloring.

Check out this video for a demonstration of a patriotic density column. 
This woman makes her's in a shot glass!