To demonstrate how there is carbon in the atmosphere
Carbon exists everywhere in the atmosphere, albeit in less than 0.04% of the atmosphere and primarily in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide plays a vital role in the support of life. Trees and plants convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, releasing oxygen in the process. Oxygen, as we know, is vital to our very existence. In this experiment you'll conduct several tests that will prove there is carbon almost everywhere.
- Lighter or matches
- 1 thin candle
- 2 deep ceramic bowls
- 1 teaspoon of Sugar
- Metal lid
Estimated Experiment Time
Between 10 and 20 minutes
- 1. Create carbon from the leaves
- Place several small leaves into one of the deep ceramic bowls.
- Light a match and drop it into the leaves.
- Wait for the leaves to completely burn.
- The leaves are burned and leave behind ash, which is carbon.
- 2. Create carbon from sugar
- Use the matches to light the candle (make sure the candle is in a candleholder and being held upright)
- Use the tongs and hold the metal lid above the candle flame so the middle of the lid is being heated by the direct flame
- Place a teaspoon of sugar on the metal lid
- Continue to hold the lid with sugar over the flame
- What happens to the sugar? It turns black, leaving behind carbon
- 3. Create carbon from the paper and pencil
- Use the pencil to color a dark black circle on the paper
- Rub your fingers on the paper several times until your fingers have a black soot on them, which is carbon
** WARNING ** This project involves the use of fire and can be dangerous if not conducted with the appropriate safety measures. As always, please ensure you have the help of an adult BEFORE attempting to conduct this experiment.
Why do you think there is carbon present when you burn the leaves? What would happen if you tried to burn a different material, such as newspaper? When you used the candle to heat the lid and burn the sugar... did you take a look at the bottom of the lid? What do you think you might find?
When you burned the leaves, the ash that remains is the carbon that was contained in the leaves. When carbon (atomic symbol C) is heated at a very high temperature, it's converted into the gas carbon dioxide (CO2).
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