My goal is to make interactive science notebooks engaging for 5th grade and middle school science students while improving science test scores. NGSS expert, teacher, tpt author, mom, & widow

Potions 101 in the K-6 Science Lab

Potions 101- is my fun name for dry ice demos. I put on my witch has and dollar store skeleton apron and become the "Potion Master" inviting my "apprentices" to learn about potions. This is a great way to teach phase changes, sublimation, pH, and more. I put graduated cylinders with colored water as a back drop. I purchase the dry ice on my way to school at Ralphs at the seafood counter. I bought dry ice four days this week to do demonstrations with all of my classes. I put it right in to a cooler.
Safety First: We talk about how the dry ice will burn if touched and the importance of following directions. We practice the word sublimation and talk about how dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide that goes straight to a gas (not a liquid).

  • K-3- We sing Hap Palmer's "Witches' Brew" song with the subtitled video on YouTube. Link here 
  • Grades 4 & 5 watch a clip from the 2010 Ellen Show with Steve Spangler. Link here
  • Then, we do Steve Spangler's Boo Bubbles. Each student gets one glove. A retrofitted, recycled  pretzel container from Costco has warm water and dry ice in it. The top is held on and they carbon dioxide gas comes out of the tubing. The end is placed in a cup of soapy water and bubbles are created. One table at a time is called up and each child gets a Boo Bubble. It would pop on their skin but sometimes with the glove, the bubble will last a few minutes.
  • Red Cabbage potion: I explain that as a potion master with a lot going on, I have switched from using a cauldron, to a blender. Much more efficient. I take some red cabbage leaves off and place them in the blender (avo green Oster) with water. I strain it a bit and pour it into a graduated cylinder. We talk about pH and acids and bases. The window cleaner turns the "potion" greenish. Adding dry ice, turns it violet/pink. Adding dish soap, makes a tube of soap and I have students line up to get a small handful of carbon dioxide bubbles.
    Red cabbage and water in the blender.

    Adding window cleaner (a base) to the red cabbage juice (a pH indicator).  It turns greenish.
    We see it turn violet/pink.