Dry Ice and Soap Experiment

Instructor: Amanda Robb
In this chemistry experiment, we'll be learning about phase changes by combining dry ice with water. By the end of the experiment, you'll be able to answer the question ''How can a phase change affect volume?''

Introduction

Research Question: How do phase changes affect volume?
Age: Middle school and up
Safety Concerns: Dry ice can burn your skin. Make sure you handle it with gloves only.
Time: 20 minutes
Independent variable:
Amount of dry ice
Dependent variable: Size of bubble
Controlled variables: Amount of soap, amount of water, size of bowl

You're at a graduation party, blowing up balloons for your newly educated friend. As you exhale carbon dioxide, a gas, the balloons inflate. Do you think this process could happen without you exhaling? Your first answer is probably no, but there are other ways to release a gas beyond your body. Phase changes, or changes between different states of matter, occur due to changes in temperature. When temperature increases, liquids transition to gas.

Today, we're going learn about this process by causing a phase change from solid carbon dioxide, called dry ice, to gaseous carbon dioxide. Before you start, think about what might happen to the volume of the air when carbon dioxide transitions from a solid to a gas. Will the volume increase or decrease and why?

Materials

  • 12 pieces of dry ice
  • A small bowl
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 plastic cup
  • 2 tablespoons dish soap
  • A small cloth
  • Plastic gloves or oven mitts
  • Data table:

Amount of dry ice Observations
2 pieces
4 pieces

Steps

1. First, create your soap solution. In the plastic cup, mix 2 tablespoons dish soap with 1 tablespoon water. Submerge your cloth in this solution and ring out any extra soap dripping from it.

2. Next, pour the remaining warm water into a small bowl. Wet the edge of the bowl with water.

3. Now, drop two pieces of dry ice into the water.

4. Stretch the cloth over the rim of the bowl and gently slide it to one side. Doing this should create a soap bubble over the rim of the bowl.

5. Write down any observations in your data table.

6. Repeat steps 3-6 with 4 pieces of dry ice. You may need to dump out the water to get more warm water if the water cooled down.

Troubleshooting

Making the bubble over the rim of the bowl can be tricky. You might need to attempt it a few more times, which is why we suggest having extra dry ice on hand. Using a larger cloth to cover the rim, adding more soap to the cloth, or using a smaller bowl can all help.

Science is all about experimentation, so if at first you don't succeed, make some changes and try again! Trust me, you want to see these bubbles.

Discussion Questions

What happened to the soap bubble when the dry ice reacted with the water?

How was the reaction different when you used two pieces of dry ice versus four?

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