Join students Sophie, Tomás, Emma, and Marcus during Fifth Period! This STEM comic strip chronicles the exciting and often hilarious adventures of a close-knit group of four friends as they learn about science, technology, engineering, and math from their kooky, inspiring, off-the-wall science teacher, Mr. Kepler. When they're not in class, these kids love to explore the vast world of STEM on their own, launching weather balloons, programming computer games, and cataloging insects, sometimes with unpredictable and highly entertaining results!
Check back on the first and third Friday of every month for a new Fifth Period strip!
Cat and Dog Chemistry
Marcus' canine pal just needed a little persuasion to get moving, and there's nothing like a cat to perk him up. In the same way, chemicals known as catalysts can get chemical reactions moving along at a quicker pace. A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate at which a chemical reaction occurs, without changing its own chemical makeup. Why is this important? Sometimes chemicals don't react as well when subjected to less-than-ideal conditions (like cold) and need a little push. Also, when a catalyst is used in a chemical reaction, less energy is required to start the process in the first place. This is especially important for factories that produce things like plastics in bulk—think of all that energy saved! So, now that Julius the dog has found a cat to chase, Marcus has to spend less energy trying to get him up and running around. Perhaps he could use that saved energy to think of some better jokes!
Try it yourself!
Want to see a catalyst in action? Check out this video and learn how to make “elephant toothpaste.” In this experiment, dry yeast (a baking ingredient) is the catalyst used to help release oxygen from hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) naturally breaks down into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2), but this breakdown happens really slowly without help. BUT, when you add yeast to the mix, as well as a bit of dish soap to trap the released oxygen, you get something crazy. So grab an adult to help, and try it yourself!