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When a substance is heated it’s molecules move faster. You can see this in a pot of water when you heat it on the stove. As the water gets hotter its molecules begin to move until the water is boiling.
When gases are heated, the same thing happens. As gas is heated up the amount of space the gas takes up increases. You can see this by heating up a bar of soap.
You have to use a bar of soap that floats. To make sure you have a bar of soap that will work, float it in a bowl of water. A bar of soap will float because it has air bubble whipped into it. Ivory soap will work for this experiment.
What You Need:
Bar of Soap that Floats
Bowl of Water
Break or cut the bar of soap into four pieces. Put the pieces on a paper plate and microwave for 1 minute. Watch the ivory soap through the microwave window.
Sciece Experiment Idea: Choose different kinds of soap to see what will happen when they are heated up for one minute in the microwave. Be sure to heat each bar of soap up on the same kind of plate and make sure you heat each bar for the same amount of time. The variable in this experiment is the soap, everything else has to be the same. Do the bars of soap each react the same way when they are heated up in the microwave? Why do you think so? Tip: Choose ivory soap for one of your trials – it’s cool!
Here are some books that will help you learn about and experiment with heated gases:
- Encyclopedia Britannica Kids: Heated Air Expands
- Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Soap Souffle (pages 48-51)
- Kitchen Science Experiments: The Great Growing Marshmallow (pages 55-56)
- Science Experiments That Explode and Implode: Slow Motion Explosion (pages 8-9)
- Super Simple Things To Do With Pressure: Microwave Magic (pages 21-22)
Words to Know:
Atoms – The smallest, most basic unit of matter. An atom is made up of a nucleus surrounded by electrons.
Molecules - At least two atoms held together by a chemical bond.
Charles’s Law – as temperatures of a gas increase, so does its volume. Simply, heated gases expand.
Heat – to make hot or warm.