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Slam Dancing Spaghetti!

I was at a party where this was demonstrated.  The kids thought it was the funniest thing ever Ö what they didnít know was that this was an introductory experiment in chemical reactions. 


tall, thin glass jar (could use clear flower vase)
tap water
food coloring
2 tablespoons baking soda (not baking powder)
dried spaghetti pasta (cannot use fresh)
Ĺ cup of white vinegar


1. Fill one of the jars with warm water, leaving enough room for about one more cup of liquid to be added.
2. Add two drops of food coloring to the water.  You donít want the water dark.  Only add enough so that the water is lightly tinted.
3. Add the baking soda to the tinted water.
4. Break a small handful of spaghetti into pieces that are no more than two inches long.
5. Place the broken spaghetti into the jar.
6. Pour the vinegar into the jar.  What happens?
7. You can repeat the experiment by using different shaped, dried pasta.

What happened and why?  A chemical reaction occurred between the vinegar and the baking soda.  This produced the gas called carbon dioxide.  The bubbles of this gas collected on the spaghetti.  Since carbon dioxide is lighter than water, the bubbles caused the spaghetti to rise toward the surface.  Depending on the size and shape of the pasta you used, you can get different rates of ascent.  Smaller pasta rises more easily.  Fancy shaped pasta can trap more air bubbles and stay up longer.

Variation:  You can also get this same effect if you use peanuts or raisins in a carbonated beverage.  The fizzy-ness of a carbonated soda is created by adding carbon dioxide (carbonation).  Ever had your soda go flat?  Thatís because all of the carbon dioxide had escaped in bubbles.

Hereís a funny fact Ė One April Foolís Day, a tv show ran a show on harvesting spaghetti from trees in Italy.  A lot of people fell for the joke and believed that spaghetti grew on trees.


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