On June 28th, Cool Science did a show for the Colorado National Guard Child & Youth Program! This time around Cool Science demonstrated to the group of pre-teens some of the amazing properties of liquid nitrogen. When nitrogen is cooled to a temperature of -322 °F it becomes a liquid with bizarre properties.
One example is how liquid nitrogen instantly boils when it touches human skin because of the temperature difference. It’s about 100 degrees difference between the liquid and the average air temperature outside! The small pocket of evaporated gas created by the boiling process creates a little hover board for the remaining liquid nitrogen, and droplets roll off the skin without causing any damage. After the show the kids got to make ice cream and Dippin’ Dots with the super cool nitrogen.
It was clear from the day’s activities that many of the kids were fascinated by the science behind the simple physical process of evaporation and condensation, and best of all they got to learn about the science in fun and interesting ways. Who doesn’t enjoy some delicious ice cream!
On June 27th, Cool Science returned to the Basalt Regional Library to once again teach kids about liquid nitrogen and frozen treats! The age demographic for this group was mostly young teenagers, and Cool Science put on an extensive show teaching the teens about all the properties of liquid nitrogen.
Teens and parents alike were fascinated as the nitrogen evaporated into gas and shot out of a tiny hole in a Ping-Pong-ball causing the object to spin at high velocities and when flowers were chilled and shattered by the super cold liquid. One of the most popular displays was when the liquid nitrogen rode across the surface of the table gliding on pockets of gas. This is called the leidenfrost effect and happens because the nitrogen is so cold it boils and evaporates instantly on the hot surface of the table. After the show, the teens were able to make their own ice cream and Dippin’ Dots utilizing the amazing substance of liquid nitrogen.
It was another excellent event where the smaller number of teens allowed for an extensive display of the cool qualities of liquid nitrogen! The parents were more entranced by the alien-like properties of the substance than even their teens!
On June 26th, Cool Science took the show on the road and taught the science behind ice cream at the Basalt and Aspen libraries. The first show in the morning was at the Basalt Regional Library, and kids ranging from preschool age to young teenagers got to learn about how ice cream is made and what makes it delicious. The second show was at Aspen’s Pitkin Country Library where an eager group of kids roared and cheered as they saw a frozen hot dog smashed to pieces and a massive cloud emerge from a bucket liquid nitrogen and hot water.
After the shows, the kids had the chance to make their own cup of ice cream by cooling down a mixture of milk, cream, and sugar with liquid nitrogen. Making ice cream is usually a slow process, but when rapidly cooled by liquid nitrogen, which is as cold as the planet Uranus, (-322 °F) you can have a frozen treat in mere minutes.
Cool Science’s day in the mountains was an excellent chance for kids and parents to learn how ice cream is made and, even better, see the chemical processes in action.