Monday, June 29, 2009

The Dancing Gummy Bear


Today was the first day of class. If I haven't said so already, the class I'm taking is Intensive Seminars on Modern Chemistry. I had to be ready at 6:45 AM for breakfast and then orientation. The orientation was very short and brief but it we got our folders with our Columbia University IDs and our class schedules. It turns out that the chemistry class starts at 9:00 AM, 1 hour earlier than most of the summer programs at Columbia U. It doesn't bother me much because it still means that I can sleep in a little until 7:30 or 8:00 AM.

After orientation, we went to our class. The class is in the Havemeyer building which is completely devoted to studying chemistry at Columbia U. Our professor's name is Luis Avila. We also have four other mentors who will be helping us out with labs and understanding the course material. Our class is split into two periods, generally one lab in the morning and one lecture in the afternoon. For this morning, our professor decided to have an icebreaker where we were to pick out a random science term from an envelope and explain what we knew about it. I had no idea what 85% of the words were! I had originally thought I knew a lot about chemistry but I actually have no idea what the terminology is for many different things. But this is okay because where's the fun in knowing everything before the class even starts?

The second period of the class was even more exciting. For this period, Professor Avila showed us many different examples and displays of different chemical properties and experiments. One of the most exciting was the "Dancing Gummy Bear" experiment (shown below). The professor heated up and melted solid Potassium Chlorate (KClO_3) and then dropped in a gummy Bear. The sugar in the gummy bear reacts violently with the Potassium Chloride and the Potassium Chloride decomposes into KCl & O_2. I'm not sure what happens to the gummy bear though, if it just happened to melt or if that too decomposed into other compounds. However, if I had to guess, I would say that it decomposed into water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen gas and then other compounds from what a gummy bear is made out of (gelatin, flavoring, etc.).

Note: The video starts after Prof. Avila drops the gummy bear into the tube

As you can see, the class is very exciting and the professor is very lively and enjoys making chemistry fun for everyone. I can't wait for tomorrow's class.

I would like to give a special thanks to the sponsors of the Ivy League Connection. Even though it is only my 3rd day in New York and 2nd day on the Columbia campus, I have already seen so many new things and met so many new people that I doubt that I would have ever had a chance to come to the East Coast without the ILC. Thank you very much!

I would also like to thank Mr. Charles Ramsey and Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg for setting up the Ivy League Connection and running it every year, Mr. Don Gosney for taking all the wonderful pictures of us and reading all our blogs and commenting on them, and Mrs. Lilhanand for being our wonderful chaperon and making sure everything is taken care of and keeping us busy.



Jessica Tran said...

That looked so amazing! It seems like a very hard class, but at the same time very fascinating!

Mrs. L said...

I really enjoyed seeing the experiment but more importantly, reading about the experiment was fantastic. Even though I do not have a chemistry background, I found your explanation fascinating. Continue writing about the lectures and experiments...that gives us all a front row seat.

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