Try This TOPS IDEA!

The Science Teacher, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Try This TOPS IDEA!


1. Mix a level tablespoon of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) with 2 tablespoons water on a plate.

2. Fold a paper towel into quarters and roll it into a "log." Lay it in your mineral water "swamp" to evaporate until dry.

3. Wood petrifies (turns to stone) as dissolved minerals in water slowly replace wood fiber. How might your log model this process? How might it be different?

4. Wait several days until your log is completely dry.

a. Evaluate your prediction.

b. Does your petrified log burn?

[C] 2010 by TOPS Learning Systems. Photocopies permitted if this notice appears. All rights reserved.

OBJECTIVE

To model how dissolved minerals petrify wood.

LAB NOTES

Photocopy the activity above for each student or lab group.

Step 1. More than a level tablespoon will create prob?lems. A mineral crust will form and slow the drying of the "log" from a matter of days to possibly weeks.

EXTENSION

Grow stalactites and stalagmites! Use a strip of paper towel to wick, then drip, a solution of Epsom salt through a gap of about 1 cm from a smaller plate resting on a larger one. The solution will first flood and crystallize on the bottom plate, but as the drip slows, first a stalactite forms on the end of the towel, then a stalagmite where the drips lands. …

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