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At-Home Science Experiment For Fun
October 29, 2015
In September 2005, teacher and science toy designer Steven Spangler dropped a row of Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke -- and the whole world went crazy. The video of the experiment, which you're probably now familiar with, featured a geyser of soda shooting straight up into the air. Ever since the clip surfaced, the experiment has been replicated and altered thousands of times. It made its way to "MythBusters" back in 2008, and quite possibly to your backyard!
The Coke and Mentos experiment surely put Spangler on the map, but that's not the only trick he's got up his sleeve. Spangler is a teacher, designer and author who frequents "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and now runs his own company, aptly named Steve Spangler Science. The 48-year-old does it "all in the name of education," and even holds a Guinness World Record for the largest physics lesson, which had some 5,000 participants.
In addition to his company, Spangler regularly contributes to the YouTube channel Sick Science! as host to a number of simple science experiments. Well, some are more complex and involved than others, but others are more feasible to do at home and would be great science experiments for kids. They can be valuable in that they not only teach a lesson, but they keep the participant engaged -- which is not always an easy task with children.
One quick science experiment on the channel that's equal parts fascinating and mind-boggling is the shrinking chip bag. As you may have gathered, Spangler loves to experiment, though his motivation for microwaving a chip bag has not been revealed.
The experiment is fairly simple and requires just two components: an empty chip bag and a microwave. Place the empty chip bag in the microwave and cook on high for a mere five seconds. Now, behold the power of science! The outcome of the experiment may take you by surprise, but there's a scientific explanation for it. Before you read on, you might want to check out the clip below.
In brief, the chip bag shrinks in the microwave and essentially becomes a mini version of itself. Neat, right? Well, the reason why this happened is because of the polymers that make up the bag. As Spangler explains on his website, polymers are long strings of molecules that are "stretched out" to make up the chip bag. They revert back to their natural "bunched-up" state when they get heated in the microwave.
One thing worth mentioning for anyone who wants to try this science experiment for fun: You may want to do this in an older microwave, perhaps one that's not for everyday use. It's mentioned in the video that the microwave may get damaged, but it doesn't look like it did much harm in this instance. If you're hung up on that aspect, you can also shrink potato chip bags in the oven.
Give the video a spin below to watch this neat science experiment in action. Will you try this out at home?
§ Sick Science!, SpanglerScienceTV, Steve Spangler Science, and Steve Spangler Science (Shrinking Chip Bags)