Session S30b (Tuesday, 2pm, Osmond 119)

P486: Teaching with a bang: the

Todd Pontius, Philip Stemple, Lori Van Der Sluys (Pennsylvania State University, USA)

“Educational Pyrotechnics” can be an effective and exciting means for fostering student attention and visualizing chemical concepts in lecture halls.  Through a disproportionation reaction followed immediately by a combustion, the “Witch’s Brew” demonstration provides an entertaining (and often awe-inspiring) vessel for discussing two important classes of reactions.

Under a layer of burning ethanol, potassium permanganate is used to catalyze a release of oxygen gas from hydrogen peroxide.  The oxygen is immediately ignited, creating a tower of fire. Dramatic buildup and an exciting conclusion are employed to promote students’ interest before serving as the foundation for a discussion of the concepts involved.


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