Light Up Lifesavers Experiment
GRADE LEVEL: 6
Understanding Matter and Energy
- PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
Students have already focused on these Expectations from the Grade 5 “Understanding Structures and Mechanisms” Strand. Specifically:
1.1. Analysed the effects of forces from natural phenomena (e.g., tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis)
3.1. Identified internal forces acting on a structure (e.g., compression [squeezing], tension [stretching], force [pressure])
With this experiment, students will now focus on the “Understanding Matter and Energy” Strand in Grade 6.
- OVERALL EXPECTATIONS
1. Evaluate the impact of the use of electricity on both the way we live and the environment;
3. Electrical energy can be transformed into other forms of energy.
- SPECIFIC EXPECTATIONS
3.5. Identify ways in which electrical energy is transformed into other forms of energy
- Dark Classroom
- Wint-o-Green LifeSavers (One for each student)
- Only have students who do not have sensitive teeth participate in the experiment.
- If students have a hard time biting down on the LifeSaver, have students suck on the mint for less than a minute to soften it.
Handout a LifeSaver to each student. (NOTE: Only hand out to students who do not have sensitive teeth.)
Have students pair up and face one another.
Turn out the lights and get the room as dark as you can.
Once it is nice and dark, wait for a few minutes, to let everyone’s eyes adjust to the darkness.
Have students break the LifeSaver with their teeth and mouth open. (NOTE: Students may suck on the LifeSaver for under a minute so it is not has hard to bite down on.)
As students chomp on the LifeSaver they will see sparks in their partner’s mouths.
Have students finish chewing and sit back down to their seats.
Explain why the sparks happened.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
- Sparks appear in our mouths due to a light that is produced when certain kinds of materials are rubbed together.
- Chemical energy is stored in all kinds of materials. The Lifesaver contains sugar crystals. When you put pressure on these sugar crystals, they become charged with electricity.
- The sugar crystals in Lifesavers have a positive charge at one end and a negative charge at the other. This electricity provides excited nitrogen molecules with extra energy otherwise known as pressure.
- When the pressure is strong enough, the crystal can produce a spark.
- However these sparks are too small and dim to see in regular candies and mints. That is why it is crucial to use Wint-o-Green flavored Lifesavers.
- The flavoring used in Wint-o-Green Lifesavers is Methyl Salicylate. This chemical will convert ultraviolet light into blue light.
CONNECTING THIS EXPERIMENT TO LIFE EXAMPLES:
- Similarly, Lightning is a stream of electricity that excites nitrogen molecules in the air.
- This electricity provides the nitrogen molecules with pressure, which the nitrogen molecules then release as visible light.
- Students will identify and describe the forces acting on and within the LifeSavers.
- Students will see sparks due to the pressure forced on the LifeSavers.
- Students will examine the principals of electricity.
- Start with a scenario that has the student's attention. For example if you are doing the experiment after lunch mention that they have stinky breathe.
- Lead into giving them each a LifeSaver.
- Mention how these are special LifeSavers. For example, state that not only do they freshen breath, but they also create lightning!
- This will create curiosity and lead into the experiment.