by Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator
In this Spooky Science Video we make Frankenstein's "hand" come to life with a simple chemical reaction! We also demonstrated an art project using the same materials to make fizzy pumpkin art. Most of the materials for this project can be found at home, and though it's a bit messy, these are both activities that children can try on their own with just little help from a grown-up.
Frankenstein's Hand Experiment
- Disposable glove
- Baking soda
- Lemon juice or vinegar
- Tray or pan
- Scoop or spoon
Put all the materials on a tray or another surface that can get wet. This is a good activity to try outside for an easier clean up. The ingredients we are using are actually used for cleaning, which means they should not stain surfaces. A tray is best if you have one. If desired you can pour the lemon juice or vinegar into the cup ahead of time, or children can help with this step.
- Place the cup on the tray, and fill it about ¼ of the way up with lemon juice or vinegar- this experiment works with either one
- Use a spoon to place a few scoops of baking soda into the glove
- Shake the glove so that the baking soda moves down to the fingertips
- Carefully place the glove on top of the cup by stretching the elastic opening of the glove around the mouth of the cup- the fingertips should be hanging down still
- Be sure there’s a tight seal between the glove and cup- if not, hold the glove in place
- Tip the glove upright so that the baking soda drops down from the fingertips into the cup
- Watch the glove! It should start to inflate quickly as the baking soda reacts with the lemon juice inside the cup
Optional Alternative way to do this experiment:
If you do not have a glove handy you can also do this same experiment with a balloon and a plastic bottle. First, draw a face on the balloon, so that when it expands you will have a funny face or monster face on your project. The rest of the steps are the same, except you are placing the baking soda in the balloon, and carefully attaching it to the top of the water bottle. The reaction will be the same as well- the balloon will magically inflate on its own! The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis shared a video of this version of the experiment: Monster Balloon Experiment. Another resource for this experiment comes from Scholastic: Fizzy Balloon Experiment
How does it work?
Lemon juice is acidic and baking soda is a base, and when acids and bases mix together, they fizz up! You created a chemical reaction inside the cup: you mixed together a liquid and a solid, and released a gas: carbon dioxide. When you add the baking soda to the lemon juice the gas starts to move out of the cup, but the glove is blocking it from escaping. The glove inflates from the gas, and will stay inflated while the reaction continues to happen. This experiment is fun because you can “see” the gas that’s created by trapping it inside the glove. Usually, we can’t see the gas that is released from a baking soda and vinegar (or lemon juice) experiment.
Fizzy Pumpkin Art
- Tray or placemat to work on
- Orange food coloring or liquid watercolor (mix yellow and red to make orange if needed)
- Lemon juice or vinegar
- Baking soda
- Pipette or spoon
- Pumpkin template- or draw your own with a permanent marker- works best on cardstock. Here are a few free printable pumpkin templates from FirstPallete.com: Medium Sized Pumpkin Template, Large Pumpkin Template
Place the pumpkin template on the tray or work surface. If you would like, use a permanent marker to draw a jack-o-lantern face on the pumpkin. Pour the lemon juice or vinegar into a cup and add the orange food coloring. If you do not have orange, mix red and yellow food coloring together to make it. Keep in mind that the color will become lighter when it mixes with the white baking soda. Spread a light layer of baking soda over the pumpkin image.
- Once everything is set up, use the pipette to add lemon juice to the pumpkin picture
- You should see the baking soda on the pumpkin starting to fizz up! Continue to add lemon juice or vinegar until the fizzing stops
- Let your project dry, and it will become a nice art project. If there is too much liquid on the picture, either use the pipette to remove some, or gently shake it off
- Once dry, you can gently brush off any excess baking soda that is left.
- This activity uses the same ingredients as the experiment, and the chemical reaction is the same. The only difference is that we added some color to the lemon juice or vinegar, so just keep in mind that this will need more clean up, and that food coloring may stain surfaces or clothing.