Sixth-grade students at Dempsey Middle School in Delaware got a hands-on lesson about the Law of Conservation of Mass this week when they created homemade lava lamps to study chemical reactions.
Science teacher Jonathon Kelley said the activity was part of a lesson on chemical reactions and changes, and he said students took a water bottle and filled it with water and vegetable oil before adding in food coloring. Students then dropped in pieces of an antacid tablets and watched as the reaction created bubbles that floated inside the bottle.
“I always try and use materials that the kids can do at home, that way they can have science at home,” Kelley said. “I try to use materials that are readily available, that way they can go home and experiment. Anytime you can give kids a hands-on activity, that’s going to stick with them. They are having fun and learning, and don’t even realize it.”
Kelley said the students also learned how to work as a team with their lab partners and learned about lab safety as they did the experiment with safety goggles.
“It’s science, so it’s interesting,” said Natalie Madden, a sixth-grader in Kelley’s class. “It’s really interesting to watch how the water and food coloring interact.”
Jason White, a student in Kelley’s class, said the experiment was “weird.”
“I’m surprised it made that many bubbles,” he said. “I thought the bubbles would float on top of the water, but it went under the water, too. Antacid tablets are very reactive.”
Madden said she would probably do the experiment again at home.
“We did learn a lot, but science is hard to explain,” laughed Madden. “I learned you can do a lot with antacid pills. It was really fun.”
Kelley said students spent the beginning of the school year learning about the Scientific Method and testing a hypothesis. He added the students are just starting to grasp the concept of the Law of Conservation of Mass, which will be a major focus of the science lessons at the start of next semester.
“That’s when we are really going to dive into more chemistry-type activities and tie it into physics,” Kelley said.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.