Outing #27: Unexpected Properties

Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Portland, Oregon

EXPLORE

To continue our week of Crazy Chemistry, we visited a beloved place in our family: the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I worked at OMSI for 12 years, so my kids literally grew up among the exhibits. One of their favorite places in the museum is the Chemistry Lab where people can don their safety goggles and do real experiments at the lab bench. To see for yourself what you can do at OMSI, check this out.

To start, we discussed what chemistry is. We used this simple definition: chemistry is the study of matter and its properties. Then, we watched a series of fun OMSI-produced videos about different properties of matter:

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DISCUSS

  • What are some of the properties of matter that we can study?

  • What other experiments would you want to try to learn more about density, molecule shape, particle size, or other properties of matter?

  • Where do you see chemistry in action? Think about in the kitchen, bathroom, garden, or other everyday places in addition to a laboratory.

DO

Another important property of matter is pH. The pH scale measures if something is neutral, acidic, or basic (alkaline). We take advantage of the pH properties of all sorts of things for cooking, medicine, and cleaning. To learn more and test the pH of common things in your home, check out this OMSI Chemistry Lab experiment. All you really need is some red cabbage!

Yes, red cabbages have an amazing property: they can indicate a substance's pH. That means that if you blend up some red cabbage with water, the resulting purple liquid can tell you if something is an acid, base, or neutral. How? The cabbage water changes color! Use this chart to determine the pH of your experiments. Great things to test include lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, and cleaning products. (Just be careful not to mix cleaning products together! Some mixtures can release dangerous gasses as they react. Chemists must be careful!)

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Post your chemistry adventures in the comments below, on Facebook, or via email!

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