Monday, March 30, 2020

The Kid Designed a Mentos Launch Tube, or, How to Make a PVC Pipe Guy Explosively Vomit

Y'all are not going to believe what Matt found when he cleaned out my cluttered, disorganized, impossible-to-find-anything-in-even-though-I-really-needed-the-linoleum-carver-right-that-minute homeschool closet.

One two-liter of diet soda, leftover from WAAAAY back when the kids were obsessed with Mentos and soda nucleation and so we did it every week!

It turns out that I could really use that empty two-liter bottle, actually, for the decomposition models that I'd like the kids to make this week. But even I am not going to advocate the consumption of an eight-year-old Diet Coke--that's just one thrifty rung up the frugality ladder too far.

Fortunately, Syd is working to earn the retired Junior/Cadette Science Sleuth badge, which is basically a miscellaneous hands-on science study that encourages a girl to stretch herself into a variety of scientific sub-fields through DIYs, model-making, and experimentation.

Would Syd like to explore engineering by building a custom Mentos launch tube that would propel the soda explosion according to her own design?

She would!

Syd built the launch tube using this PVC pipe Mentos launch tube tutorial--Matt had already planned a trip to our local big-box hardware store to get supplies for several DIY projects before our state's shelter-in-place order began, so I could tack the PVC pipe bits that we needed to his shopping list. If you don't have PVC pipe bits on hand, though, I think you could make due with cardboard and duct tape.

Syd followed the tutorial to build the launch chamber, but engineered her own paper clip trigger system. The big fun, though, was in cutting the end cap to create her own soda spray pattern!

Would she drill lots of holes in it to make a sunburst?

Cut a single line for a wide spray?

Try out the narrowest hole possible to see if it makes the soda more explosive?

Um, no. It turns out that what the world actually needed was a Mentos launch tube whose exit was designed to mimic a person explosively vomiting:

Also, soda is going to spew out of their eyes:

Little buddy looks so happy right now, all decked out with Mentos and a paperclip. It has no idea what's waiting for it out on the driveway...

The paperclip snagged a couple of the Mentos and kept them from falling until after a delay, but otherwise I think the young engineer was quite satisfied with her design. Also, this thing happened that I think is gross:

Can You Lick the Science, indeed?

Awww, our little guy feels much better now!

And now we have the two-liter bottles that we need to decompose banana peels and eggshells in our family room!

For Syd, this was an engineering project, not a chemistry one, so we didn't dwell much on the process of nucleation, itself. But if you want to do more with nucleation, it's also represented in this cloud in a jar model and in the formation of crystals.

P.S. The homeschool closet is spanglingly clean right now, and yet there is still no linoleum carver! I very much fear that we will have to clean out my cluttered, disorganized, impossible-to-find-anything-even-though-I-really-need-the-linoleum-carver studio closet next.

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