The physical sciences include chemistry, physics, and earth sciences — all of which involve the study of non-living systems. Over the years, the Catalysts for Change workshops include the following topics:
Polymer Chemistry: PVA Slime
Polymers are large molecules with repeating units. Their size and composition determine their properties. Slime is a common polymer used for play. In this activity, the students prepare their own slime and observe changes in the physical properties of the chemicals.
Eggs in Space!
While working in a group to develop a prototype design, students explore physics concepts, such as velocity, acceleration, force and trajectory. Their mission is to build a space craft that can protect a raw egg when launched from a sling shot. Each group builds the craft using only the materials provided to them.
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
Everyone loves snacks, especially when they’re made with science!
How do they work? How are the different colors produced? The colors in fireworks come from the energy released when metal salts are heated. In this activity, the students perform flame tests to see the color produced from small samples of metal salts. They then view a larger fireworks demonstration and predict identities of the metals.
Aroma Lab, Maillard Reaction
The distinct aromas we smell when we cook bread, cookies, meat, chocolate or popcorn are produced when the different amino acids in these foods are heated with a simple sugar. The chemical reaction that occurs during this process is called the Maillard reaction. In this activity, the students work in the laboratory performing the Maillard reaction on several different amino acids and determine the resulting aromas. The students compare the aromas they detect with a model of the structure of each amino acid.