On Saturday, ICPL hosted the last Way Cool Chemistry of the summer. It was a great program: Sally showed us some experiments relating to gardening, plant care, and soil conditions.
Science is all about asking questions, so before we began playing in the dirt (literally!) we came up with some of the questions we might ask about plants: What will we grow? What does it need to grow? How big do we want it to get? What about the environment where we’re growing it? We examined three common store-bought growing mediums – they all had different appearances and mineral compositions. Below, you can see us using some simple chemicals to determine the pH (how acidic or not the soil is) of each sample:
We found that each soil had a safe pH for growing our hypothetical planting project, an ash tree, so we moved on to measure the soil density. Below we’re finding out that with some cool beakers, a scale, and a simple math equation, soil density is easy to find. Each of our three soils had very different densities, so some plants with very delicate roots might have trouble with the more dense stuff:
After all that careful work learning about how different soils have different properties, we dug into the Box Of Physics to build a bridge (using only three pieces of tape). The goal is to suspend as much weight as possible on the bridge…below you can see most of the contents of the box suspended over three strings! I think the plastic humanoids are helping too.
Keep your eyes peeled for more Way Cool Chemistry on the ICPL calendar!