Wack-a-Pack and Chemical Reactions

Wack-a-Pack and Chemical Reactions

Author: carolyn fruin
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Take a Look!

See how fun and easy these little items are.

Source: fruin 2014

Basic Information

Wack-A-Pack balloons are both educational and entertaining. Simply smack the pack with your hand and it self-inflates. The pop is not very loud, but equivalent to the popping of a bag of chips. The balloon then begins to inflate and takes about 30 seconds to completely inflate. 

As explained on the package, “Smack the pack and shake THEN QUICKLY THROW ON FLOOR. A chemical reaction of the citric acid (Vitamin C), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and distilled water will create a small bang and inflate the balloons.”

When sodium bicarbonate is combined with citric acid (vitamin C) and distilled water, there is a chemical reaction that creates a large bang. When punching the small bag, it causes all these chemicals to react and inflate the bag and balloon inside and causes the bag to explode. This is essentially what gives Alla-Seltzer it's fizz when added to water. The complete neutralization reaction is .... 

H3C6H5O7(aq) + 3NaHCO3(aq) --> Na3C6H5O7(aq) + 3CO2(g) + 3H2O(l) 

The CO2 gas coming off gives the solution its fizz. Inflated bal
loons measure 4x3¼x1¼".

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Chemistry Class/Demo Activity

This is a teacher's guide pdf that explains the reaction and gives directions on how to work with students to do the experiment in class with inquiry adaptations. (American Chemical Society)

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Learning Targets for "The Big Chill"

After this activity, students should be able to:

  • Follow procedures to collect data while changing more than one variable.
  • Create line graphs to represent the data.
  • Interpret data to predict overall behavior of multiple variables.
  • Describe how this activity applies engineering design principals including cost analysis.

Standard-Aligned Goals:

  1. Math competency: Skills and appreciation for data collection and analysis used in real life.
  2. Quantitative literacy: Ability to follow procedures and provide recommendations.
  3. Engineering applications: engineering design process, cost considerations corresponding to performance.
  4. Cultural relevancy: How to follow procedures, collaborative work in small groups and hands-on activities.

Reaction Exposed: The Big Chill!

Develop engineering skills with students using small scale ideas to solve for a large scale problem.

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Source: http://goo.gl/TdZNXn - TeachEngineering.org