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Hands-on experiment helps sixth graders understand scientific principle

Girl in purple shirt watches intently as she holds test tube over Bunsen burner

Last month, Mr. Hanifin’s sixth grade science students conducted a great hands-on experiment.

They used a Bunsen Burner to boil a test tube of colored water.  Using test tube clamps, they dropped the hot tube into a graduated cylinder filled with tap water.  The colored water rushed upward out of the test tube to form a colored layer on the top of the graduated cylinder.

So what happened? It’s called “convection.” Hotter, less dense materials rise (think a hot air balloon) and colder, denser materials sink under the influence of gravity. As hot and cold layers mix, they transfer heat. That heat transfer plays a part in ocean currents, wind, and weather. By reducing convection, researchers create lightweight insulated clothing such as Under Armour. By increasing convection, they create faster cooking convection ovens.



Who knows? Maybe this cool experiment will inspire some of Mr. Hanifin’s students to become great scientists.

close up of hand holding test tube of red liquid over open flame

Boy wearing goggles hold a test tube of red liquid over an open flame, two other students look on

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