High School Chemistry Shows Off For Middle School Students

Photo by Michele Nelson. |


On a blustery day before Payson schools let out for the spring break, Meena Rustagi’s chemistry class showed off colored soap, glowing Mountain Dew, and burning dollar bills to middle school students.

“We had 180 eighth-graders come to get excited about science,” said Rustagi. “But they have less focus than the first-graders.”

This is the second year Rustagi and her chemistry class took over the Dome gym to showcase experiments to inspire younger students to get involved with science. Last year, Rustagi invited first-grade students. This year, she decided to present to the eighth-graders.

The high school chemistry students found experiments on You Tube, science websites, and suggestions from Rustagi.


Gerardo Moceri burned dollar bills for his presentation on Burning Benjamins.

Moceri said he dipped the dollars into rubbing alcohol, then water, then the alcohol again.

“It (the fire) only burns the alcohol and the water protects it,” he said to explain his project.

The bills gave off huge flames.

Tessa Hintze, Arissa Paulson and Taryn North showed off a volcano gush of a yeasty, soapy mixture streaked with colors that oozed out of a plastic bottle.

“We mix soap, yeast, hydrogen peroxide, and food coloring and watch it come down the sides of the bottle,” said Paulson.

Chaz Davis and MacKenzie Mann showed off how to do tie-dye on shirts using Sharpie pens.

“You draw a design and then pour rubbing alcohol on the pen marks,” said Mann as she concentrated on making an abstract design on the shirt.

To show the students the final project, Mann and Davis pinned up a completed shirt on their tri-fold board.

Rustagi also invited Superintendent Johnnie Ketchem to attend. He loved the hands-on learning.

Other presentations

Fruity DNA, by Danielle Bland and Frank Mendoza: Strawberries leave DNA easy to see after crushing up and adding salt, soap and water.

Celadon Color, by Tanner Dendy and Trevor Anderson: Different layers of soap with dyes in each soap hold their color.

Glowing Dew, by Jacob Avakian and Gabe Hernandez: Make glowing Mountain Dew with dishwashing soap, glow sticks and baking soda, then peek through the peep box to see the result.

Shocking but True, by Oliver Driscoll Lowe and John Hughes: Static electricity with a balloon and PVC pipe.

Tie Dye Cards, by Carly Banning and Taylor Vaughn: Write a design on a card, put shaving cream on card and watch the color drip.

Kilauea in a Bottle, by Tianni Lawrence and Brittany Staub: Oil, water, food coloring and Alka-Seltzer combine to create a volcano.

Cabbage Tests PH, by Kandace Baex and Dahan Zermeno: Red cabbage infused with different acids and bases shows by the color of its juice what is the PH of the liquid.

Making Ice Cream, by Nate McMullin and Kylie Chapin: Dry ice, cream and sugar make the classic frozen sweet treat.

Smoke Ring Canon, by Brian Skinner, Dalton Bruinson and Hunter Lane: Integrates chemistry and physics by heating smoke and air at the center of a ring which creates a vortex of power to push the smoke ring into the air.

Pine Fire, by Anna Schouten and Kara Van Zile: Illustrating how the different elements burn in fire.


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