Monday, 28 August 2017

The Summer Space Project - Venus and Creating Co2

Following on with our Summer Space project  and learning about the Moon we also wanted to look at our neighbour planet Venus.
Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because of their similar size, mass, proximity to the Sun, and bulk composition.
However, it is radically different from Earth in other respects. It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars), consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide.

The atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface is 92 times that of Earth, or roughly the pressure found 900 m (3,000 ft) underwater on Earth. Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System, with a mean surface temperature of 462 °C; 863 °F, even though Mercury is closer to the Sun.
Venus is shrouded by an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light. It may have had water oceans in the past but these would have vaporized as the temperature rose due to a runaway greenhouse effect. Venus's surface is a dry desertscape interspersed with slab-like rocks and is periodically resurfaced by volcanism.
With us covering the similar features of Venus I wanted to discuss the difference in the atmosphere. We, of course, have an atmosphere made up of Nitrogen 78%, Oxygen 21% and Other Gases 1%. Carbon Dioxide is only 0.4%.
I wanted to show the children a way of measuring Carbon Dioxide and to show that from one substance we could create an atmosphere similar to Venus.
A great experiment I remembered from school was expanding a balloon with Carbon dioxide. So simple that I thought it would work well for the kids and easy to share with you all.


Empty Bottles

Bicarbonate of Soda

We started off by pouring some vinegar into the bottom of an empty bottle. We only filled it a couple of inches.

Using a spoon we placed the Bicarbonate of Soda into the balloon. This is a two person job; one person will need to open the balloon carefully for the other person to pour a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda in.

Once in the base of the balloon carefully place the mouth of the balloon over the rim of the bottle but try not to tip the contents in!

The reaction should be immediate and the Bicarbonate of Soda will make the vinegar froth up and the gas will start to inflate the balloon. Make sure you hold on to the rim of the balloon to make sure there aren't any holes or gaps. 

Eventually the froth and the reaction will lessen lower back to the bottom. If, however, you give the bottle another shake you can recreate some of the reaction and inflate the balloon more!

 As you can see, after several attempts and "shake ups" the balloons can inflate quite a lot.

This is a great little experiment to create Co2. The simplicity of the activity is brilliant for all primary aged children and works well, in activities like this, when exploring an "alien" planet.
As one of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been a major fixture in human culture for as long as records have existed. It has been made sacred to gods of many cultures, and has been a prime inspiration for writers and poets as the "morning star" and "evening star". It seemed, therefore, a great planet to explore as part of our project.
I ended the experiment by explaining that Venus was the first planet to have its motions plotted across the sky, as early as the second millennium BC as well as it being the closest planet to Earth.
On an additional level: Venus has been a prime target for early interplanetary exploration. It was the first planet beyond Earth visited by a spacecraft, and the first to be successfully landed on (by Venera 7 in 1970). Venus's thick clouds render observation of its surface impossible in visible light, and the first detailed maps did not emerge until the arrival of the Magellan orbiter in 1991. Plans have been proposed for Rovers or more complex missions, but they are hindered by Venus's hostile surface conditions but, with some hope, more may come to light in our children's lifetime.
So what do you think? Did you like our experiment? Will you give it a try and explore Venus with us?


Relentlessly Purple said...

This looks so much fun! I think we will give these a try some time!

Rebecca Greenway said...

This looks amazing! I will defiantly have to try with Rosie 😊

Plutonium Sox said...

This is brilliant, great way to do a science experiment with some safe chemicals that everyone has in their cupboards.

David Starkie said...

Need to remember this for when Chase is older! Looks like great fun!