On November 1, 2021, a busload of Junior Kindergarten students from GNS’ Beach Drive Campus came to the Pemberton Woods chemistry lab. They were here for exciting spooky Hallowe’en science.
For an hour Senior School volunteers led the wide-eyed and impressionable JKs through various activities, such as ghost growing and puking pumpkins.
To start off the magic session, Mr. Osborne, the resident sorcerer, waved his arms and made a pumpkin burst into flames. The pumpkin was clearly exhibiting discomfort, as the pumpkin’s mouth was open, eyes screwed tight with flames ranging in colour from bright blue, pink, green, to varying degrees of yellow spewing out of its mouth and head!
The science behind the flaming pumpkin:
Prior to lighting the pumpkin on fire, Mr. Osborne had sprinkled different salts onto the surface, and when the salts combusted, this created different colour fires. Hand sanitizer was squirted onto the pumpkin. The ethanol generated the bright blue flames and also served to further fuel the flames. Potassium chloride created purple flames while the sodium in the pumpkin resulted in the orange flames!
Next, Senior School volunteers lead the JKs through a Ghost Growing Contest. JKs competed with each other and their older friends to see who could grow the biggest ghost. The “ghosts” were foam cups containing a soap and water solution in which the students blew through a straw to grow either the largest or the most bubbles.
The next experiment, a lead-up to the finale, consisted of two cups, containing brown foam and clear liquid. Once combined, they create a thick foam resembling a root beer float. Even though the combination appears to look like a root beer float, it is not. The chemicals involved are preferably not to be ingested: yeast and 3% hydrogen peroxide.
For the final showdown, the root beer float was performed on a larger scale by Mr. Osborne. Titled “the Puking Pumpkin,” JKs saw their “flaming pumpkin” vomit bright orange foam! The pumpkin must have been extremely sick, since foam was threatening to come out from the eyes, which was understandable since having dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and potassium iodide in your head is not the most comfortable and best combination for a pumpkin. Normally, a pumpkin only expects to be pureed, mixed with sugar, egg, nutmeg, a sprinkle of cinnamon, layered on a pastry crust, baked and paired with whipped cream.
For some additional scientific Hallowe’en fun, Mr. Osborne has revealed a fun recipe that is safe enough to do at home. Named oobleck
, which comes from Dr. Seuss’ book Bartholomew and the Oobleck, it is a simple combination of cornstarch and water, and food colouring for a bit of excitement.