This is a very simple demonstration that makes an impact. It illustrates energy release that occurs quickly. In the demonstration, Mr. Carter (the other science teacher at my school) visually reinforces the necessity of cellular metabolism’s small-step oxidation of glucose instead of releasing it all at once.
The materials you will need for this demonstration are as follows:
- Approximately 1 tablespoon of Potassium Chlorate
- Large test tube
- Gummy bear (or any other gummy animal)
- Fume hood (or any system to allow for the fumes to escape without engulfing the room)
- Eye protection (Lab Goggles, etc)
The solid should be heated until it melts, and then the gummy bear can be dropped in. The reaction will proceed without further effort.
The products of the reaction should be potassium chloride (white deposit near the mouth of the test tube) as well as varying amounts of soot or charred gummy bear if not all of it is used up in the reaction.
This kind of “all at once” release of energy would be catastrophic in a living organism. Fortunately, there are enzymes in place that allows it to happen in a stepwise manner.
Also, the flame color of the potassium is quite pretty 🙂