Science Class Ideas?

I am currently in the process of testing and developing some new class ideas.

Is there anything you would like seen taught in science that might be long enough to make a class? I am struggling a little bit with what is the appropriate technical level for the most interest.

Or any past classes that you would like brought back? It will probably be after Christmas before I get a class up.

Suggestions I have had included growing crystals. Would borax crystals be what people would be interested in or something more advanced?

Mushroom growing has test trial in the works.

Grafting pomato plants in the spring? Tomato on top potato on bottom.

These would have to have enough interest to justify ordering the chemicals.
I have thought of some beginner level organic chem classes like aspirin synthesis. Would that be on a level people would be interested in?

Or making some artificial flavoring?


Artificial Floorings would be fun. Looking forward to mushrooms.

Making Nylon is fun but no real takeaway item. I have plenty of materials for Thermite. Also Sodium Acetate “Hot Ice” is cool (pun intended).

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Synthesis of a ferrofluid? But aspirin sounds cool.


I had planned a crystal class a while back but never got to it. May still have the notes I put together, will check. The lab was to use Sodium Acetate, since it’s a fast process that’s easy to demo, and a very fun one (pouring real time hot ice sculptures). It was harder to do that in the workshop due to the dust, so I had shelved it until after the move and kind of forgot about it.

Making Silver Christmas Trees Blooms would be great if we have materials handy to do it as part of the holiday season. Silver Nitrate and wire.

A casting class using thermite (held outside obviously). Would require setting up some of that cheap concrete paneling stuff to make a safe spot to do it in for protecting the concrete but it’s a fantastic display of an exothermic reaction. Cast iron parts are fun to make, even if they are a bit porous. using alternate mixtures like TiO2+Mg substituted for Fe2O3/Fe3O4 for casting titanium

Class on building a device to measure impulse and total energy from things like rocket motors (static test stand type, not so much chemical but a good rocket science class for those who build models). Alternatively make one in the style of a ballistic pendulum and you can measure the ballistic energy of arrows and similar projectiles.

EDIT: I see @Lampy beach me to the punch on a couple of these. I also have lots of supplies for thermite (including some good permangnate ignition mixture I use on e-matches. Much safer and more reliable than using Magnesium fuses). I think I donated all my Sodium Acetate the last time I did crystal stuff in the lab.

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Branching off the tomato grafting idea (pun not intended), a soil testing class might be kind of cool. Those kits aren’t hard to follow, but if you don’t know enough about soil science it can be intimidating to try to figure them out.

Edit: I’d love to see more gardening related science classes like composting and such. I know that we’re a bit limited in what we can actually demo hands-on. I’m sure we could even invite someone from the TAMU Agrilife program to do a talk on xeriscaping.


I went to a bio talk at makerfaire a few years ago and they talked about doing the following:

Organ decellularization And insulin production process kinda punk in its way to show people that it’s not something that should cost what it does.

Interesting, I think it falls into the if I have enough interest to justify the purchases. So if enough people are interested I would be willing to put that together.

Yours and Lampy’s overlap a bit.

If you would be interested in teaching the crystal class or be willing to share your notes and let me finish it, either way would be fine with me.

This close to Christmas I don’t think I personally have the time to throw something Christmas themed together.

I can look into the thermite casting. Seems like you guys already have some of those supplies. I would have to see what else is needed.

Not sure about the last one if I get some more positive feedback on that one I can look into it.

I can try looking into the soil testing, and see what all is involved. I do like gardening.

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I think we actually had some silver nitrate when I looked. Question is how much / concentration.

as for the casting Ken and I probaby have enough thermite on hand for multiple classes lol.

What would be needed besides the thermite and my ignition mix for iron casting:

  • some typical sand casting materials
  • some clay flower pots with a drain hole on the bottom
  • some aluminum ducting tape
  • some e-matches (I’m fresh out, and I think the kind @lampy has may be 1.4s rather than 1.4g). Alternatively Aerotech rocket motor ignitors (the twin lead insulated kind) work very well with permangnate mix for lighting thermite)
  • a little control box (since I can’t leave mine; it’s an easy build; just a 12v battery a key switch and a button)

it casts like most other metals, except rather than heating the metal in a crucible then pouring, the thermite provides the molten iron itself.


Awesome, It already got a thumbs up!

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The silver nitrate is really simple, so I would have to add something with it or add a significant amount of lecture. I am going out of town in a few days so I just don’t have the time to get this going before Christmas. According to my list though we do have the silver nitrate.

Thanks for shortening some of the thermite casting legwork.

Interesting idea, I don’t know enough about it. But i can look into how doable/affordable(for class) it is. I think I remember theyre using bacteria for insulin now so I dont need a bunch of pig pancreases :joy:

What would be really cool is combining it with something like a resin casting session (@Lordrook?).

The silver nitrate christmas trees are super cool things to make, and a great example of a common reaction, but a bit on the delicate side. I’ve always wanted to see if we could displace the nitrate solution with something to clean the tree, drain the jar, then cast it in resin to encase it

Even if we can’t do it for the holidays I think it would be a cool crossover class between the resin SIG and Science if we can make it work.

That seems like a decent solution. Better to preserve it and add to the class. We can see what other feedback we get.

How about nitrogen-freezing ice cream spheres?


@Lampy and @TBJK can offer lots of advice on covering the crowd in nitrogen frozen ice cream…


also, some great pics:

I will never get tired of this.