Last semester I watched the outdoors club more than any of the others. It was with this club that I watched students plant rice, grow sweet potatoes, and have some pretty tasty barbecues. Being out there digging in the soil with my students, eating with them, laughing with them, it was really cool. The Outdoors Club was my first exposure to a Japanese Elementary school extracurricular, and it really made a nice impression on me.
Today I decided to pay a visit to another club, because I would always see them going home with interesting little experiments. One of the ones I remember one of the Science Club students showing me was a green-colored slime that they made. Another experiment was a cookie they made using a compound that was sweeter than sugar. After seeing some of these experiments and getting to make the cup motor with our resident science wizard, I decided to look into it.
Late last semester, the same teacher that showed me how to make the cup motor, told me that they’d be doing an experiment with liquid nitrogen. I asked if he was planning on making any Terminator machines this year, too, but I guess that may be beyond the scope of an elementary school science club. As soon as I hear liquid nitrogen…I WAS ALL EARS! I sat in on this club, and it was incredibly fun!
The teacher started off by doing different demonstrations with liquid nitrogen. He did the classic demo of liquid nitrogen on an air-filled balloon. Watching the balloon crinkle and freeze never gets old. In addition to the balloon. He froze and shattered a rubber ball* followed by the freezing and crumbling of the petals of a fresh, live rose.
The teacher finished his initial demonstration with live examples of two different chemical reactions using liquid nitrogen: one produced water and the other, dry ice.
I was so surprised that after the demonstrations, the teacher gave each group a bowl of liquid nitrogen to experiment with. The kids had a blast dipping items into small bowls liquid nitro to see them break. Droplets of liquid Nitro would scurry as the labs as the kids were experimenting. The group closest to me spilled their bowl and one boy got liquid nitrogen on his clothes. He seemed to be okay, but it spooked the crab out of me. was so worried that he had burned himself or worse. This was something I’d never seen before. Liquid nitrogen was always a substance that teachers would demonstrate but never let us use.
The last part of the experiment was something that I’ve never seen performed with liquid nitrogen. One teacher came in, mixing eggs, sugar and salt. The main teacher then began to pour liquid nitrogen into the mixture, stir some, add more liquid nitrogen and stir even more. Sure enough, he ended up making the first batch of liquid nitrogen ice cream that I’ve ever seen. It tasted and looked like the egg ice cream I had in Hakone (not as creamy and smooth of course). I don’t know how safe that ice cream was. I’m sure many people would attach some type of stigma to ice cream made with liquid nitro.
It was pretty tasty though…
Maybe I could open the Japan Guy Liquid Nitro Ice Shop 😀