Last Days of School: Diet Coke and Mentos and Dry Ice Fun

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Objective

Student will be able to explain what happens with Diet Coke/Mentos and the nature of dry ice by participating in various activities.

Big Idea

Science is about having fun as well as learning, even if the official school year is over.

Introduction

In this lesson students are having fun with chemistry by doing experiments regarding mentos/ Diet Coke an dry ice.

  • This lesson aligns with NGSS Science and Engineering Practice 3: Planning and Carrying out Investigations because students are performing lab activities. 

For this lab activity there are several materials needed.  For each class I have two 2 Liter bottles of Diet Coke, 2 roles of mentos, a large, shallow plastic bin, a cart (to place the bin on) and a geyser tube (available at several places including amazon.  

Additionally for each class I put out about 1-2 lb. of dry ice broken into chunks, about 8 film canisters several bottles of water, a bottle or two of dish soap, about 8 stir sticks, 8 plastic beakers (100mL), and several bottles of 0.1M NaOH. 

Diet Coke and Mentos

20 minutes

For the first part of this lesson I perform the Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment with students.

To begin this I show students several i-movies from previous chemistry students which shows the experiment that they will be doing.  I also show them some you tube videos such as this one below by EepyBird.com to get them excited about what they will be doing. 

I then ask for volunteers to be in charge of the soda and the mentos for each of the two experiments and have the entire class go outside (this is easy because in San Diego the outside is just outside of my classroom door).

Once we are outside I have one student (who is in charge of the soda open the bottle.  The other student (who is in charge of the mentos) loads up the mentos into the geyser tube.  I then help screw the geyser tube onto the soda, place the soda bottle/tower into a plastic bin, and whomever is in charge of the soda pulls the string.  This is a picture of the setup.

I then have the student pull the string and this video shows what happens.

If you want to discuss with students about the science phenomenon, Steve Spangler explains it well on his website

Fun with Dry Ice

30 minutes

For this part of the lesson I allow students to experiment with dry ice.  I go over what dry ice is, the safety of dry ice and their options for experimenting before I let them start to "play".

In this first video I go over how student can make little rockets using dry ice, water, and film canisters.  I make sure to stress that they must wear their safety goggles because of the film top cannisters popping off.

In this second video I am explaining to students how they can place dry ice in a beaker with sodium hydroxide and universal indicator.  I also tell them how they can add dry ice to a beaker with soap and water. 

After I go over the rules of playing with dry ice with students I allow them the freedom to experiment on their own.  As students are working I walk around to ensure that they are working safely and having fun.  When there is about 5 minutes left of class I stop students and have them clean up by washing everything in the sink and placing the materials back on the table where they got them. 

Science Games/Reading

If I still have time at the end of class I allow students to play games or read.  I have several games in my classroom including Jenga, Operation, Twister, Uno, and Cards.

I also have lots of science related books on a shelf in the back of my room.  

I find that most students choose to play games with their peers, but there are some students who like to sit and quietly read, so it is nice to have alternatives.