The Science Brainwaves crew ventured to the Brecon Beacons last week, to take SCIENCE to the unknowing festival goers of Green Man 2010.
Communicating science through the tasty medium of food, the Science Brainwaves team worked up a scientific feast of dry-ice ice cream, DNA extraction, chromatography, fermentation of yeast, non-Newtonian fluids, acid-base reactions, LEDs lit by lemons and our favourite pH indicator red cabbage.
Experiments available in Einstein’s Kitchen at Green Man Festival were:-
- Dry-ice Ice cream
- Extraction of DNA from Strawberries
- Sweetie Chromatography
- Oobleck (non-Newtonian fluids)
- A pot of Baking Soda Volcano
- Coke and Mentos Balloons
- Acid-Base Indicator (Red Cabbage)
- Lemon powered lights
- Picking up a jar of rice with a pencil
- Yeast Balloons
My main experiment was Sweetie Chromatography, where we separated out the colours of sweets and felt-tips using a technique known as Chromatography.
Chromatography is a method for separating mixtures. The name chromatography comes from the greek chroma- meaning “colour” and graphein- meaning “to write”. Sweetie chromatography used the paper chromatography form of chromatography. The experiment involved the separation of the sweetie colour mixtures by the mobile phase, which in our case was acetone (but other liquids could be used as a solvent such as water, ethanol, nail-varnish remover). The mobile phase was taken up the stationary phase (Whatman filter paper, alternatively coffee filter paper could be used) which separates out the different pigments of colour which make up the sweetie colour.
Visually the aspiring scientists in Einstein’s Kitchen could see the acetone being pulled up the filter paper, bringing with it the colours of the sweets and felt tips.
The take home scientific principle from this experiment is the term molecular solubility. The more soluble [which refers to the how much a substance (in this case the different colours) are capable of being dissolved in a solvent (in this case acetone)] the colour is in the solvent (acetone) the higher up the filter paper it will be deposited. The least soluble colours were deposited at the lowest level on the filter paper.
There were lots of things I enjoyed about the sweetie chromatography but my favourite thing has to be the look on every persons face when they returned to pick up their chromatogram (name given to filter paper once chromatography complete) that look of amazement, surprise and happiness all rolled into one. Proof again that when presented in the right way Science really can be fun.
Stay tuned for further blogs on Einstein’s Kitchen experiments.