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Topic: Magic Trick on Atoms
Message: Posted by: BScott8870 (Aug 28, 2011 05:21PM)
Looking for ideas to explain basic properties of atoms.

Protons, Neutrons, Subatomic particles, Electrons and Mass

Does anyone have a magic routine that would work with this topic?

Trying to think of a Sponge Ball routine with a D'Lite for the electrons.
Message: Posted by: Yellowcustard (Aug 29, 2011 02:59AM)
Some yo-yo tricks migth be handy also look at astro jaxs as well.
Message: Posted by: Nak (Aug 31, 2011 09:23PM)
Not quite magic, but having taught chemistry, as a review I passed out p+, n and e- (the electrons being balls, the protons and neutrons being cut outs with tape). As a class we would build me into an atom of choice (limited up to Boron, unless you want to do charges, since I can only juggle 5). Some ideas along with it:

Shower represents the Bohr model (fixed path)
Crazy tricks can represent the more modern model, representing 'random motion'.
Tennis can represent excited electrons.
Dropping can represent taking on a charge.

Naturally you can mess around with isotopes as well.

If you teach chemistry let me know - I'd love to share some other pieces with you if you're interested.
Message: Posted by: 61magic (Sep 2, 2011 02:54PM)
I did a science show for many years and now retired from active performing. Many of my effects were standard items dressed up to look science-like and include a script to fit the theme.
I would use a redecorated Mak Strat-o-spheres and represent the parts of the atom as the three balls, the vanish box was decorated with an atom symbol, and a lot of -,+ etc...
I also did a multiplying billiard ball routine with an atom theme. I took a square of plywood covered it with black paint, painted in the orbit lines of the atom and drilled correct sides holes to fit the billiard balls.
Adding some felt into the holes helps to keep the balls from falling out. During the routine I would produce the balls and place them in the holes in the orbits and the center. Using a changing color ball can be used to explain the changing of a proton to a neutron etc... you get the idea.
I also had a model of an atom I floated using the Zombie method...
Just looking through your apparatus can give you a lot of ideas.
Message: Posted by: BScott8870 (Sep 3, 2011 08:26PM)
Thanks Guys.

I already came up with a simple routine using Stratospheres.

The mutiplying billard balls sounds cool.

Where can I get that?
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 3, 2011 08:33PM)
Why not just tell them the honest state of what we know by inference based on experiment (like the charge/mass ratio experiment, tracks in the cloud chamber ..) and give them an appreciation of the great mystery? There's no fancy math required to describe what's been detected and how the point-particle model is just a crude aproximation and ... that when folks really do the math to build models they get all sorts of strange things like antiparticles corresponding to the roots of quadratic equations and when they try to make elegant models they get even stranger things like branes, strings that vibrate (when not stretched) ...

The little we know seems more mysterious than magic tricks IMHO.
Message: Posted by: BScott8870 (Sep 3, 2011 09:43PM)
Wow! OK. You are way beyond me.

I am a middle school science teacher and I don't even understand half of what you just said!


I am just trying to get them to learn the 3 basic parts of an atom, what a subatomic particle is and valence electrons.

You might think that sounds very easy, but trust me teaching 8th graders in a low income school just this small amount of info. is really challenging.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 3, 2011 11:32PM)
You're gonna leave out the gluons, cloud of virtual photons, the vast amount of empty space that can't really be empty? :D

Everything is made of atoms and/or light. Yet the puzzles and mysteries of matter have remained challenging to our best and brightest for over two thousand years. Way back then they reasoned that there should be atoms - but it was a long time till Avagadro's number and the notion of moles was explored. Got an Einstein hand puppet?

On the serious side, if you can let them know about lightning, flow of charge, the mass of an electron, the puzzle of the nucleus from x-ray scattering though gold foil - then the larger bits that go flying whose trails we find in the cloud chamber and particle accelerator plates - they should be astounded in one class and likely recall that the electron is light compared to the stuff in the nucleus - that protons are stable and neutrons are tough to see but they decay into a proton and something else... and Einstein was right in the middle of it.

It's not a solar system thingie. If you shine a light on an atom, you can get electrons (photoelectric effect) and talk a little about Einstein. Then you can get back to rubbing cats on rubber and leyden jars and zaps and circles of amused folks who enjoyed shocks. That leads to Franklin's brave conjecture that the party stunt with the jar was related to lightning and the invention of the lightning rod.

Moving ahead we find that when you have a big enough amount of zap stuff you can get other stuff to go flying when you zap it - about two thousand times heavier and we call them alpha particles. The more folks tried to get different sizes of bits out of mater the more they found that they kept getting collections of the same things - and one of those things seems to vanish (decay of neutron) in a strange way. Magic in the cloud chamber? Or particle decay? Amazing and IMHO more impressive than our tricks.

13 volts DC gets you electrons, and a color of light. If you want the other stuff you need bigger zaps.

The facts as we know them and how we learned them are amazing IMHO and the mysteries are with us even today. There's really no need to talk about special unitary groups, quarks or that stuff, just the notion that from ancient Greece on folks have been pondering just how far you can keep dividing a piece of matter (hence the name atom) and how we went about first cutting then then later on shooting light and electrons as matter to see what kind of picture they could give us.

Consider the x-ray of a person and how different the x-ray image from a thin gold foil was - and how that led to the notion of heavy nuclei and electrons on some kind of orbits.

Just the facts...

Valence - that's easy enough when you can count the protons in the nucleus which is not the same as the atomic weight. If you give it to them straight they will likely be so astounded by the arrangements as found in nature that they will have a greater respect for both the experimenters and what is. IMHO the models ( someone's croquet balls - really) are not so important as the findings from experiments. Alchemists knew to use scales but did not sort the things they found by weight alone. That's pretty much where chemistry became its own science.

In middle school we also learned about LASERs and spectral lines - related to both atomic composition and temperature - and that lets us learn about the ingredients in everyday matter and what's happening in stars.

If you want to leave them with a real mystery - let them know about a LASER beam which start as a quarter inch round dot when it leaves the lab and by the time it hits the moon that dot has spread out over a couple of miles in diameter -even though the light left the lab in perfect lock step. If they want to know more - they need to take a class in physics in high school - probably an elective and from there every bit of math they can learn will be real important.

Way too much information ;)


PS - yeah I did some teaching. Finding a hook - be it a mystery or a celebrity (Einstein) seemed to work well for ideas. Getting the names and measures needed some anchors to experimental process.
Message: Posted by: billmarq (Jan 9, 2012 10:18PM)
You could demonstrate that matter is made of mostly of "space," specifically the space between the nucleus and the electrons of each atom. I do not recall the actual proportions, but there is a macro world comparison such as, "If the nucleus were the size of an orange, the first electron ring would be 1,000 yards in radius." (That is not the actual figure. I made it up.) You would do this by passing a solid object through a table top or perhaps some other penetration effect.

I cannot claim originality in this idea. It was the suggested patter for the salt shaker through table trick I learned many years ago in a book whose title and author I no longer rememeber. The idea is that the molecules of the salt shaker pass through the molecules of the table top using that empty space.
Message: Posted by: txshepherd (Jan 11, 2012 08:34PM)
Use "Industrial Revelation" to show all atoms have more empty space than solid.
Message: Posted by: vinh31 (Jan 29, 2012 05:34AM)

Make several hydrogene and Carbon and Oxygen cards. You can write the valence number on it if that helps.
You take two Hydrogene card and 1 Oxygene card, you ask them what they think they will have,
Fire appears at your fingertips and Ta-daa!
-> A card with a drop of water or a glass of water.

What else can we do? Air (and blow a balloon)
And so many complicated things that are based from very basic elements (banana smell chemical etc).
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Apr 22, 2012 07:18PM)
Wow, a wealth of knowledge on this thread gang, thanks!