JCE Resources for Chemistry and Toys | Journal of Chemical

Journal of Chemical Education 2012, 89 (9) , 1174-1177. DOI: 10.1021/ed100977e. Erica K. Jacobsen . JCE Resources for Chemistry and the Home. Journal ...
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Chemical Education Today

NCW 2005: The Joy of Toys

JCE Resources for Chemistry and Toys


by Erica K. Jacobsen photo: N. S. Gettys and J. J. Jacobsen

My twin brother and I sat by the swimming pool in the Phoenix heat, feet splashing in the water. Our entertainment: a new pump water rocket. We filled the lime-green plastic rocket to the mark with pool water, snapped it on to the hand-held pump, and underwent a flurry of pumping. Pressed the release, and let it rip. We experimented. How high would it go? What if you put in less water? How many times could you ask dad to retrieve the rocket from the roof before he really blew his stack? In our youth, little did we know we had a piece of science in our hands. To us, it was just a toy, an afternoon diversion. But a diversion such as this provides a perfect way to catch a student’s interest. It’s a toy, it’s fun—but wait, it’s also science, it’s also chemistry. National Chemistry Week (NCW) 2005 brings the theme “The Joy of Toys”. As has been done with past NCW themes (1), this annotated bibliography collects the best that past issues of JCE have to offer for use with this year’s National Chemistry Week. Each item has been characterized as an activity, demonstration, experiment, informational, or software/video item; several fit more than one classification. The most recent articles are listed first. An indication of the levels the article may serve are included. Articles that appeared adaptable to other levels, but not designed explicitly for those levels, are labeled “poss. h.s.” “poss. elem.”, and so forth. Since all references are

Toy building-block car kits are a concrete way to help students understand stoichiometry concepts.

to Journal articles, they appear in abbreviated form, including only year, volume, page. W

Special JCE Online Supplements

The full-text version of all articles described in this resource paper are available to subscribers in this issue of JCE Online. Literature Cited 1. Jacobsen, E. K. J. Chem. Educ. 2004, 81, 1390–1396; 2003, 80, 1106–1109; 2002, 79, 1162–1167; 2001, 78, 1316–1321; 2000, 77, 1256–1267.

Erica K. Jacobsen is Associate Editor, Secondary School Chemistry, JCE; [email protected].

✰ Resources for Chemistry and Toys Balloon—Toy of Many Colors. Williams, K. R.; 2005, 82, 1448. Informational/Demonstration/Experiment; all levels Describes past JCE articles that relate to the use of balloons. Toys in the Classroom. Sarquis, J. L.; Sarquis, A. M.; 2005, 82, 1450. Experiment; all levels Describes several toy-based experiments where students make shrinking toys and investigate drinking bird and hand “boiler” toys.


photo: J. J. Jacobsen

Explosion of hydrogen balloon containing silver.

News from Online: Toying with Chemistry. Harris, J.; Kehoe, S.; 2005, 82, 1458. Informational; all levels Describes multiple Web sites that relate to science and toys. The Fizz-Keeper: A Useful Science Tool. Williams, J. P.; Van Natta, S.; Knipp, R.; 2005, 82, 1454. Experiment; all levels Describes several experiments that use the Fizz-Keeper (a commercial household product) and a 2-liter plastic soft drink bottle.

photo: Susan Gertz

photo: J. J. Jacobsen

Memory Metal. J. Chem. Educ. Staff; 2005, 82, 1488A. Activity; h.s./coll./poss. elem Students compare the properties of nitinol metal wire to those of

copper and galvanized steel wire. They then design (and may make) a toy that would use nitinol metal wire to operate.

A lemon-powered clock.

Vol. 82 No. 10 October 2005

A hand “boiler” toy can be used to illustrate vapor pressure and related concepts.

Journal of Chemical Education


Chemical Education Today

NCW 2005: The Joy of Toys

photo: J. J. Jacobsen and E. K. Jacobsen

✰ Resources for Chemistry and Toys, continued Investigating how easily a steel wire can be coiled.

Screening Technique for Lead and Cadmium in Toys and Other Materials Using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. Brouwer, H.; 2005, 82, 611. Experiment; coll./poss. h.s. Students test plastic toys for PVC using a flame test, and for lead and cadmium using an atomic absorption spectrometer. The Nature of Hydrogen Bonding. Schultz, E.; 2005, 82, 400A–B. Activity; h.s./coll. Students investigate hydrogen bonding with water molecule models that they make from K’Nex toy components and adhesive Velcro. Clean Chemistry: Entertaining and Educational Activities with Soap Bubbles. Williams, K. R.; 2002, 79, 1168. Informational; all levels “From Past Issues” feature cites and describes soap bubble activities. Lego Stoichiometry. Witzel, J. E.; 2002, 79, 352A–B. Activity; h.s./coll. Students investigate the concepts of stoichiometry in a concrete manner, using toy building-block car kits. Putting It All Together: Lab Reports and Legos. J. Chem. Educ. Staff; 2001, 78, 1192A–B. Activity; h.s./coll./poss. elem. Students construct Lego structures to illustrate the importance of recording observations during lab and of clear and concise writing. Based on Keeping a Scientific Notebook: The Lego Exercise. Pendley, B. D.; 1997, 74, 1065. Chemistry Comes Alive! Vol. 5. Jacobsen, J. J.; Johnson, K.; Moore, J. W.; Trammell, G.; 2001, 78, 423. Chemistry Comes Alive! Vol. 2. Jacobsen, J. J.; Moore, J. W.; 2000, 77, 671.

A piece of memory metal spelling the word “ICE” can be pulled apart. Then, when it is dipped into warm water, it “remembers” its original shape and reforms the word “ICE”. From Chemistry Comes Alive! Volume 5.

[Available from JCE Software] Software/Video; h.s./coll. QuickTime video is available for the following: CCA! 2: “Memory Metal”. A video demonstrates the use of a piece of memory metal. A simulation illustrates the atomic level processes. CCA! 2: “Vapor Pressure: Drinking Bird”. Three videos show the “drinking bird” toy, and the effect of heat and water on its action. CCA! 5: “Slime”. A viscous gel is produced upon mixing borax with a solution of poly(vinyl alcohol). Sink or Swim: The Cartesian Diver. Pinkerton, K. D.; 2001, 78, 200A–B. Activity; all levels Students construct a Cartesian diver and investigate how pressure, temperature, and chemical reactions affect the volume of gases. Curriculum Alignment Projects: Toward Developing a Need to Know. Pinkerton, K. D.; 2001, 78, 198. Experiment; h.s./coll. Describes a semester-long project that challenges students to cause a Cartesian diver to reach the bottom of its bottle in one minute using the pressure of a chemical reaction in a separate vessel. Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble. J. Chem. Educ. Staff; 2001, 78, 40A–B. Activity; all levels Students test various solutions to see which produces the longestlasting bubbles. Gas Me Up, or, A Baking Powder Diver. Derr, H. R.; Lewis, T.; Derr, B. J.; checked by Hanninen, T.; 2000, 77, 171. Demonstration/Activity; all levels Students make a “diver” pipet filled with baking powder that repeatedly submerges and rises to the surface of a tub of water.

photo: J. J. Jacobsen and E. K. Jacobsen

Lego structures can illustrate the importance of recording observations during lab and of clear and concise writing.


Journal of Chemical Education

A Cartesian diver made with a 2-liter soft drink bottle and glass dropper.

Vol. 82 No. 10 October 2005


photo: J. J. Jacobsen and E. K. Jacobsen

Multiple JCE articles describe classroom use of the “drinking bird” toy. From Chemistry Comes Alive! Volume 2.

Chemical Education Today

J. Chem. Educ. 1990, 67, 585.

photos: J. J. Jacobsen and K. Bruce

A modified BedBugs game can be used as a molecular motion simulator.

Illustrations of Magic Sand’s hydrophobic properties.

Illustrating the Properties of Magic Sand. Goldsmith, R. H.; 2000, 77, 41. Demonstration; h.s./coll./poss. elem. Describes several overhead projector demonstrations that use ordinary sand and Magic Sand to illustrate the differences between hydrophobic and hydrophilic materials. Magic Sand. J. Chem. Educ. Staff; 2000, 77, 40A–B. Activity; all levels Students investigate and compare the properties of ordinary sand and Magic Sand. Using Games To Teach Chemistry. An Annotated Bibliography. Russell, J. V.; 1999, 76, 481. Informational; h.s./coll./poss. elem. Describes over 60 published or marketed chemistry games. Includes supplier information and organizes the games by subject matter.

The Bobbing (Drinking) Bird. Gesser, H. D.; 1996, 73, 355. Demonstration/Experiment; h.s./coll. Describes two “drinking bird” toy experiments that address the question “When will the bird stop bobbing?” Subject of letter to the editor: The Bobbing Bird. Gesser, H. D.; 1999, 76, 757. A Bag of Slime. A Novel Lab Procedure. Katz, D. A.; 1994, 71, 891. Experiment; h.s./coll./poss. elem. Method of preparing “slime” using poly(vinyl alcohol) laundry bags (a degradable plastic product) instead of prepared PVA solutions.

The Thermobile: A Nitinol-Based Scientific Toy. Kauffman, G. B.; Mayo, I.; 1998, 75, 313. Demonstration/Informational; h.s./coll. Describes the “Thermobile” toy, which demonstrates the conversion of low-temperature thermal energy to mechanical energy.

A New Quantitative Pressure–Volume Experiment Based on the “Cartesian Diver”. Thompson, J. U. S.; Goldsby, K. A.; 1994, 71, 801. Experiment; h.s./coll. Uses a Cartesian diver fit with a pressure gauge to illustrate, qualitatively and quantitatively, the relationship between gas pressure and volume.

The Gelation of Poly(V inyl Alcohol) with Na2B4O7 . 10H2O: Killing Slime. McLaughlin, K. W.; Wyffels, N. K.; Jentz, A. B.; Keenan, M. V.; 1997, 74, 97. Experiment; h.s./coll. Students prepare a series of gels (“slime”) using PVA and borax, then titrate the gels with acid and measure resulting gel viscosity.

Slime and Poly(Vinyl Alcohol) Fibers. An Improved Method. Strobel, G. G.; Whitesell, J. A.; Kriegel, R. M.; 1993, 70, 893. Demonstration/Informational; h.s./coll. Describes several improvements in “slime” preparation, as well as a demonstration to show its liquid/solid properties.

Students build water molecule models from K’Nex toy components to investigate hydrogen bonding.

J. Chem. Educ. 1986, 63, 60.

J. Chem. Educ. 2005, 82, 611.

photo: J. J. Jacobsen and E. K. Jacobsen

What’s Gluep? Characterizing a Cross-Linked Polymer. J. Chem. Educ. Staff; 1998, 75, 1432A–B. Activity; all levels Students prepare “gluep” using white glue and laundry borax, then investigate its properties.

Experiments with Glow-in-the-Dark Toys: Kinetics of Doped ZnS Phosphorescence. Lisensky, G. C.; Patel, M. N.; Reich, M. L.; 1996, 73, 1048. Experiment; coll./poss. h.s. Describes experiments with phosphorescent toys. The first uses a spectrofluorometer, the second uses a photocell and ohmmeter. Includes a demonstration of the effect of temperature on reaction rate.

A student examines the properties of a slime.

Toys are tested for lead and cadmium.


Vol. 82 No. 10 October 2005

Journal of Chemical Education


Chemical Education Today

NCW 2005: The Joy of Toys

A Miniature Hot Air Balloon and Charles’s Law. Deese, W. C.; 1990, 67, 672. Demonstration; h.s./coll. Describes a tissue paper hot air balloon (made from a kit which is still available online, see http://scientificsonline.com/product.asp_ Q_pn_E_3031333, accessed Apr 2005) used to illustrate Charles’s Law with a Meker burner in an indoor setting. The BedBugs Game—A Molecular Motion Simulator. Hogue, L.; Williams, J. P.; 1990, 67, 585. Demonstration; h.s./coll. Describes the adaptation of a toy, the “Bed Bugs Game”, to represent aspects of molecular motion, including diffusion, effusion, and Graham’s Law. Magic Sand: Modeling the Hydrophobic Effect and Reversed-Phase Liquid Chromatography. Vitz, E.; checked by Cornelius, R.; 1990, 67, 512. Demonstration/Informational; h.s./coll. Describes seven demonstrations involving the interaction of water with Magic Sand and synthetic silicas and discusses the underlying chemistry. A Discourse on the Drinking Bird. Vemulapalli, G. K.; 1990, 67, 457. Informational; h.s./coll. Describes the operation of the “drinking bird” toy in quantitative terms, and outlines similarities between the bird and heat engines. Happy and Unhappy Balls: Neoprene and Polynorbornene. Kauffman, G. B.; Mason, S. W.; Seymour, R. B.; 1990, 67, 198. Demonstration/Experiment/Informational; h.s./coll. Describes the materials that make up “happy” and “unhappy” balls, along with demonstrations/experiments that illustrate their properties. Subject of letters to the editor: Rolling Happy and Unhappy Balls and Their Coefficients of Friction. Nicholson, L.; 1993, 70, 867 and Storey, R. F.; Seymour, R. B.; Kauffman, G. B.; 1993, 70, 868.

Which bubble solution produces the longest-lasting bubbles? Students investigate this question by preparing solutions with different additives.

The Gelation of Polyvinyl Alcohol with Borax. A Novel Class Participation Experiment Involving the Preparation and Properties of a “Slime”. Casassa, E. Z.; Sarquis, A. M.; Van Dyke, C. H.; 1986, 63, 57. Experiment/Informational; all levels Describes a procedure to allow all students to quickly and easily prepare “slime,” even in large classes. Includes a description of its chemistry and several experiment variations. A Demonstration Model for Immiscibility. Hoffman, A. B.; 1982, 59, 155. Demonstration; h.s./coll. Describes several demonstrations that use Magic Sand to illustrate various solubility principles. Toys in the Chemistry Classroom. Ziegler, G. R.; 1977, 54, 629. Activity/Informational; h.s./coll. Describes 14 items, the chemical principles involved in each, and practical applications of these principles. Suggests a discussion of the patents connected with a toy. Chemical Principles Exemplified: Footnote to the Drinking Duck Exemplum. Plumb, R. C.; 1975, 52, 728. Demonstration/Experiment; h.s./coll. Describes several variations in the use of the “drinking bird” toy, including its being able to still bob up and down without the use of a drinking liquid, and how to make the bird oscillate more rapidly.

Invitation to Chemistry through a Large Soap Bubble Chamber. Sato, S.; 1988, 65, 616. Demonstration; all levels Describes the preparation and use of a bubble chamber in which students can view a bubble from the inside out .

Chemical Principles Exemplified: Physical Chemistry of the Drinking Duck. Plumb, R. C.; 1973, 50, 213. Informational; h.s./coll. Describes how the “drinking bird” toy illustrates principles of phase equilibria and thermodynamics.

Dramatization of Polymeric Bonding Using Slime. Sarquis, A. M.; 1986, 63, 60. Activity/Experiment; all levels Describes a dramatization of the preparation of “slime” where students themselves become models of cross-linking polymers.

The Drinking Bird and the Scientific Method. Frank, D. L.; 1973, 50, 211. Experiment; h.s./coll. Describes the use of the “drinking bird” toy to illustrate the basic processes of a scientific investigation.

JCE Resource Papers: good classroom resources, well described, theme-based: These resource papers were constructed around previous National Chemistry Week themes by Erica K. Jacobsen of the JCE staff. They are similar in concept and execution to JCE Resources for Chemistry and Toys (above). These are great references—in print or online at JCE Online.

JCE Resources for Chemistry: Health and Wellness; 2004, 81, 1390–1396.


Journal of Chemical Education

JCE Resources for Chemistry and the Atmosphere; 2003, 80, 1106–1112.

JCE Resources for Chemistry and Cleaning; 2002, 79, 1162–1167.

JCE Resources for Chemistry and Art; 2001, 78, 1316–1321.

JCE Resources in Food Chemistry; 2000, 77, 1256–1267.

Vol. 82 No. 10 October 2005


photo: J. J. Jacobsen and E. K. Jacobsen

✰ Resources for Chemistry and Toys, continued