Hydrogen Fun

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To start off our chemistry for the year, Grace and I attempted to “pop” hydrogen. (Notice, I say “attempted.”) We used the electrical current from a 9 volt battery to pop apart the hydrogen and oxygen in water molecules. Sounds fun, no? 🙂 In theory, we should have been able to use a flame and the collected hydrogen to make a nice little pop, but something went awry. Somewhere in the process, there was some corrosion. We used graphite in our test tubes, so, theoretically, this shouldn’t have been a problem, but we certainly did see sediment and discoloration from somewhere. Perhaps the leads were the problem? Anyhoo, there was still a lot learned…things like this:

  • Why did we add salt to the water?
  • Why did the tube collecting hydrogen seem so much more active than the tube collecting oxygen?
  • What are some of the uses of separating the hydrogen atoms from the oxygen atoms in water?

We also “acted out” a hydrogen atom and discussed the periodic table of elements, S shells, electrons, and protons. Good times! Grace seemed the most impressed with this fact:

“…there is so much empty space in hydrogen that if the proton were the size of a pea, the electron would travel in an S shell the size of a football stadium!” (Chemistry Plus: The Alphabet of the Universe)

She marveled at that for quite a while. 😀

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