F5 Plastic Bottle Cannons

The video below appeared as stimulation for F4 task with the same name.  The exercise here includes more questions.

The video demonstrates an explosive reaction between two gaseous elements. Mixtures of the two gases are contained in three different plastic bottles with a rubber bung at the mouth. The reaction is initiated by introducing a lit match next to a small hole on the side of the bottle covered with a small cello (scotch) tape.

Though all three contain mixtures of the same two gases, the reaction is a little different from one another in its vigor/explosiveness. Watch the video to see and hear the results.

Here are the question:

  1. If you did not attempt the F4 version of this task, first identify gases in the plastic bottle. The gases are colorless and odorless.  (All you are being asked to do is use your knowledge of the periodic table and some basic properties about the elements on it.)
  2. List some observations about the canons which show that the energy involved, the explosiveness of the reactions, were different. (The final canon was shot outside as the loudness would have been a little too much in the laboratory. All three bottle were of the same capacity.)
  3. Explain the difference in the loudness.
  4. Physics extension challenge: Design an investigation to determine the energy output by the explosion.

Concept involved:

  • periodic table, reactive gases, physical properties, color, odor.
  • stoichiometry, stoichiometric ratio, mole ratio, volumetric ratio,

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