CCJHS students work to beat the heat in foamy experiment

Special to Leader-Press


Things were heating up in one Copperas Cove Junior High Science class—literally. It is when the solution tried to erupt outside of its containers that things really got interesting.

CCJHS students conducted an experiment to learn the different between an exothermic reaction and an endothermic reaction. An exothermic reaction releases energy and increases the temperature of the substances used. An endothermic reaction absorbs energy from the surrounding environment and decreases the temperature of the substance. The chemicals used in the experiment were Poly (A) Tertiary Amine and Poly (B) Isocyanate, CCJHS Science Dept. Chairman and 8th Grade Science Teacher Felix Alaniz said.

“These two chemicals when stirred will begin to react and produce a foam that hardens,” he said. “Practical uses for this substance are Styrofoam, insulation, airplane wings and various construction applications.”

The students were given a lab activity worksheet that explained the lab procedure and were instructed to mix both of the chemicals and stir until the substance began to foam and release heat. After this happened, the students used a stir stick to prevent the foam tipping over the sides of the containers. 

“Students were asked to find alternative uses for this substance and some of their answers were quite interesting,” Alaniz said. “Students learn through hands on activities and in Mr. (David) Fratto’s and my science classes, labs are extremely fun and educational.”

Some of the students’ ideas included possible use as an alternative to airbags, body cast for severely injured people and use for model airplanes or drones.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills requires that at least half of the science curriculum taught in the classroom must be hands-on activities. Alaniz’s experiment met science requirements for    chemical formulas, equations and reactions. 

Eighth grader Sadie Zieg nicknamed her figure that resulted from the experiment.

"Foam Gnomes is a chemical reaction lab that illustrates a change in color and a change in temperature,” she said. “I learned the difference between an exothermic and endothermic reaction during this fun lab."

During the experiment, students had to maintain lab safety skills and procedures and recognize that a chemical reaction always produces a new substance. CCJHS student Cherith Hicks had a clear understanding of the chemical process after participating in the experiment.

"This exothermic reaction lab releases a large amount of heat. The change in temperature is a clue that a chemical reaction is taking place,” she said. “There is also a release of a gas and a new substance is formed."  

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