Forces of Nature: Geoscience and Physics Demonstrations
Hosted by: UT Austin OnRamps
Visit our Booth: Saturday, March 6, 2021, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Recommended Grades: 6th, 7th, 8th
Video your experiments and share your results on Flipgrid.
Geoscience Demonstration: Volcanic Eruptions
Adapted from Kids Earth Science
Alka Seltzer tablets
Film canister or small container with a snap on lid (no screw on lids)
Paper and Pencil
This experiment should be conducted outside under the supervision of an adult
Place an Alka Seltzer tablet in your container
Add enough water to fill the container about half full
Quickly close the lid on the container and set it on the ground
Move 8-10 feet away from the container
Measure the distance that the lid and canister flew through the air and record your data
What might happen if you use two Alka Seltzer tablets? Try the experiment again to see if your prediction is correct. You can also try using different types of small containers to see how the container changes the experiment.
The film canister represents the throat of the volcano, and the lid represents the cooled igneous rock that covers the molten rock in the volcano. The Alka Seltzer tablets represent the expanding gases that cause pressure to build up in the volcano.
Physics Demonstration: Rotational Inertia
1 raw egg and 1 hardboiled egg
Consider how you could determine which egg is raw or hardboiled without cracking them open.
Put the eggs on a level surface, such as a table or counter top, and give them a spin.
Once they are spinning, lightly touch the top of each egg to stop it.
What did you observe?
In this experiment, you observed a new property of rotating objects called rotational inertia. The more difficult it is to start and stop a rotating object, the more rotational inertia it has. The rotational inertia of an object depends on the shape of the object, the mass of the object, and how the mass is distributed throughout the object.
You may have noticed that the raw egg is more difficult to start or stop spinning. This is because once the raw egg is spinning, the denser portions move away from the center and increase the egg's rotational inertia.
If the raw egg was harder to stop or start spinning, what does that mean for its rotational inertia compared to the hardboiled egg?
If you had a can of chicken broth and a can of beef stew, which would be easier to spin? Why?
How does this activity connect to STEM and today's Girl Day theme of Exploring Earth and Energy?
Geologists, Geoscientists, and Physicists study specific aspects of the earth and how energy is used and transformed in different processes and phenomena. In our first experiment, we saw how expanding gases in volcanoes can lead to eruptions. A large amount of energy can be released in these eruptions. Scientists study volcanoes in order to predict when eruptions might occur in order to help protect communities living near the volcano.
In our second experiment, we saw that rotating objects have a rotational inertia. Energy is needed to both start and stop a rotating object. The earth itself is rotating on its axis, which means that the Earth has a rotational inertia based on its mass, its shape, and the distribution of that mass.
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OnRamps provides distance education courses via a dual enrollment model to more than 34,000 students across Texas—more than half of whom would be first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. Designed by UT Austin faculty, our 13 courses span STEM, Arts, and Humanities—with the college credit portion transferable to any Texas public higher education institution.
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