15.4.11: Chemistry week at Pusat Sains Negara

We went for Chemistry week at the National Science Centre. There were many busloads of students there -- a crowd that is unusual for a weekday, but they all came in conjunction with the event. I felt that the students in Klang Valley are luckier as they had more opportunity to attend such events compared to the students in other parts of Malaysia. I recalled that when I was a student in Melaka, we never went for such events. We stayed in school all the time. Perhaps such events weren't in existence then.   

There were many tables set up with exhibits at the Nature Secrets Lab. We were shown how to make silly putty (a.k.a. slime) to illustrate the chemical change from liquid into a polymer.

Silly putty (a.k.a. slime) 
Items required:
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • White glue
  • Borax detergent / soap powder
  • Food colouring
  • Warm water
  1. Mix together 3/4 cup of warm water, 1 cup of white glue and several drops of food colouring in the first bowl.
  2. In the second bowl, mix together 4 teaspoonfulls of borax detergent with 1 1/3 cups of warm water.
  3. Mix the contents of the 2 bowls, but don't stir. Let it air for 1 minute, the lift the now coagulated slime out of the bowl.
Making a nylon rope from chemicals. 
Pour 2 different types of chemicals, mix them and see them turn into a rope before your very eyes!

Needle through a balloon
Putting a needle through the balloon, with shaky hands
Now, why didn't the balloon burst?
Explanation given (Taken from a printout there): "The polymer rubber chains exist in random loose clumps in the unstretched state. At the nipple end of the balloon, there are lots of rubber, and therefore many, many polymer chains - still loosely coiled. These chains can be pierced without popping the balloons because the chains can still be stretched. This is because they allow the skewer in between the chains without breaking the chains or bonds that connect them. But on the sides of the balloon, these chains are stretched almost to their limit, and very far apart. The piercing is too much for the stretched chains and they break apart and the balloon pops."

There were a group of Form 5 science students from Sri Aman school exhibiting various types of science exhibits and their very own composter designed by them. I was quite impressed, as they were articulate in English and were able to interact with the visitors and explain to them. It was good exposure for the students, an exposure that I didn't have when I was a science student in school.

We went into the nature garden next door. There were less butterflies. The boys had the opportunity to pat a white rabbit. They weren't part of the Chemistry Week exbition, and we just took a detour. 
There were stick insects and an orchid mantis, which looked like an orchid.
Pupas of butterflies
I was fascinated by the gold coloured pupas. They were vibrant gold. 
Lovely lotus. See the small tadpole just below it?
After that, we went indoors, to the science labs on the 3rd floor of PSN. It was the boys' first experience entering a science lab. The seats were high. 

There was a demonstration on inflating a rubber glove with dry ice. Pour dry ice inside, pour some water, tie the ends of the glove and shake it several times. There will be some clouds of smoke-like fog and we could see the glove expanding before our very eyes. Interesting!

Making a volcano erupt

Bubbles of  red coloured "lava" spilling out of the volcano

Panadol soluble rocket

Items required:
  • 35 mm film container
  • Panadol soluble tablets
  • Water
  • Protective glasses
  1. Put on your goggles
  2. Remove the lid of the film container
  3. Place the panadol soluble table into the film container
  4. Fill the container 1/3 to 1/2 full of water
  5. Close the lid tightly
  6. Quickly place on ground, right way up, stand and watch   
It blasted off and fell back down. 

Self-Inflate Balloon

Items required:
  • Baking powder
  • Vinegar
  • Balloon
  • Funnel
  • Table spoon
  • Bottle

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of baking powder to a balloon with funnel. 
  2. Fill a bottle half-full of vinegar
  3. Attach the balloon with the baking powder to the bottle
  4. Quickly pour baking powder from balloon to the bottle
  5. Observe what happens

There were many other demonstrations. We skipped some as there were too many people at those tables. 

Getting ready to hold a "fireball"
The colours separate but you must drip it carefully without touching the base of the container. 

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