Lesson plan

Pop Rocks Matter

This experiment is a fun lesson that captures the ears, eyes, and minds of students! It combines writing, reasoning, predictions, and teamwork with candies and soda to produce a memorable lesson on chemical reactions and energy.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to predict the outcome of an experiment. Students will be able to identify and describe the outcome of the experiment. Students will be able to write a detailed account of the experiment, including why it worked or didn't work.

(15 minutes)
  • Before the lesson, lay out your ingredients.
  • Tell your students that today they are going to perform an experiment.
  • Ask your students to label their next empty notebook page (or their loose leaf paper) with your chosen heading, such as Pop Rocks Matters or Ingredients.
  • Motion to where the materials for this experiment are laid out.
  • Point out each ingredient, but do not tell them anything about the experiment.
  • Have students write down the materials by either drawing them or writing the list.
  • Give students 5 minutes to make quick predictions about how you will use the materials and what will happen.
(15 minutes)
  • Place students into small groups. Two to four teams work well for a competition feel.
  • Tell students to discuss their predictions and make notes in their notebooks about different ideas the other members of their group came up with.
  • Give each group 10 minutes to discuss, argue, and combine their predictions into one cohesive paragraph predicting the use of materials and outcome of experiment.
  • Walk around and discuss their ideas, but be careful not to give anything away!
  • Go over key terms with your students. Remind them that a chemical reaction is a process in which atoms of the same or a different element rearrange themselves to form a new substance, either giving off or taking in heat as it changes.
  • Explain to your students that carbon dioxide is a gas that is present in the atmosphere, formed during respiration, decomposition or decay, and the reaction of acids with carbonates.
  • Tell your students that matter is something that takes up space.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to gather around the experiment materials with their notebooks.
  • Pick up the soda bottle and Pop Rocks bag.
  • Activate prior knowledge with questioning. Potential questions include: Does anyone know what these have in common? Is there carbon dioxide in this?
  • Pick up a balloon and the funnel, carefully placing the mouth of the balloon over the small end of the funnel.
  • Carefully pour half to the whole bag of Pop Rocks into the balloon.
  • Open the sealed bottle of soda, and carefully place the balloon's mouth over the soda's mouth.
  • Ask students for their current predictions.
  • Carefully pick the balloon head up and allow Pop Rocks to slide into the bottle.
  • Watch and listen to the experiment!
  • Move the soda to the side, and take out the vinegar bottle and box of baking soda.
  • Activate prior knowledge by asking questions such as: Do you remember what reaction these have when combined? Does anyone know what happens when we mix vinegar and baking soda?
  • Carefully place a new balloon on the funnel, and fill the top with baking soda.
  • Open the vinegar bottle, carefully placing the balloon mouth over the bottle mouth.
  • Ask students what they think will happen and why.
  • Carefully shake the baking soda into vinegar.
  • Ask students about similarities and differences in the two experiments. Compare balloon sizes.
  • Point out where there is kinetic energy, or energy in motion, and potential energy, or energy not yet in motion.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to return to their desks and write their conclusions about the experiment in their journals.
  • Have students include final balloon sizes and possible reasons for differences in size, if there are any.
  • Allow students to measure the balloons for their final write-ups.
  • Enrichment: Have students research chemical reactions and create their own experiments showcasing such a reaction. You can also instruct your students to perform the Pop Rocks experiment themselves. Alternatively, have students write a script for the experiment and record themselves (or their group) performing the experiment as if for an audience.
  • Support: Direct your students to work with the teacher in a small group or one-on-one setting to look more closely at the reactions and what causes them. Give students information for various experiments, and have them practice their outcome predictions. Review the states of matter and the energy of a chemical reaction to make sure that there are no gaps in their understanding.
(10 minutes)
  • Collect your students' predictions and conclusions for grades.
  • Create an anchor chart using the poster. Have students provide you with a fact about the experiment and sketch or write it out creatively on the board. For example, your students could say that the lesson dealt with matter or energy, or they could mention the ingredients.
(5 minutes)
  • Bring your students' attention back to the table containing your experiments.
  • Mention that the balloons have not gone down yet because of the power of the energy released during the chemical reaction.
  • Ask students to finish their notes up and turn in or put away their journals.

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