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Mad Scientist

Chemical Detective

Why is it that solid ice can turn back into liquid water, but a cooked egg can't turn back into a raw egg? Or why can you stir sugar into your coffee or tea, but you can't stir it back out? It's enough to drive you mad! To answer this question you will need to put on your detective hat and solve the mysteries of physical and chemical changes. If that doesn't sound interesting, well... watching some things explode and creating your own Mentos and soda volcano should help.


what you’ll need



Ask About Today

Name one chemical change and one physical change that took place to make dinner. How do you know this happened?

Dinner Discussion

Imagine if everything in the kitchen was as highly reactive as Mentos and soda. What two things would you try combining first? What kind of reaction would they create?

Skip the Ads

Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.


45-60 minutes


Meet Mad Scientist Nick Uhas

Today's mad scientist, Nick Uhas, is an interesting guy. A former professional stunt rollerblader for Team Rollerblade USA, he went on to get a degree in organic chemistry. Since then, he's turned his chemistry skills into YouTube and TV stardom. Let's watch him at work in this episode of America's Got Talent.


Meet Some Mad Scientist Detectives

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Crime scene investigators like the ones you see on TV use chemistry everyday to identify substances and help solve crimes. Learn more about what they do and how the reality of their work differs from what you tend to see on screen.


Investigate the Branches of Chemistry

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Before we start, let's get our chemistry straight. You might think of "chemistry" as a single type of science—one that involves combining different kinds of liquids together in funny-shaped glasses and tubes. But there are actually many different types of chemistry, like "analytical chemistry," which is what a real chemical detective would do, and "nuclear chemistry," which focuses on the changes and reactions of atoms. Which branch do you find most interesting?


25 Chemical Reactions in 15 Minutes

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Put your safety goggles on. We're going for a ride through the world of chemistry with acclaimed chemistry teacher (and accordian player!) Andrew Z. Szydło.


Chemical Reactions in Action

Let's face it, chemical reactions are pretty cool. Combining two things to create something new feels a little like magic. Take another look at the science behind chemical reactions in this Good Thinking! video from the Smithsonian.


30-45 minutes


Make a Mentos + Soda Volcano

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Here's some mad science you can do at home. You'll need at least one bottle of soda, a package of Mentos (those little mints that come in a roll), and some space outside or a bathtub where things can get messy. (Younger kinda campers will also need some help from an adult.)

Start by watching this video to see one girl's own Mentos and soda experiment. Then, try it yourself! Be sure to drop in the Mentos as quickly as you can, and stand back. If you have a few different types of soda, see which one produces the most extreme reaction.

Adult Supervision Required

Be kind: This activity can make a mess, so ask permission from an adult first, and do it outside or in a bathtub and clean up after.


What's Going On Here?

Why do Mentos and soda create such a strong chemical reaction? Read this article from Science Sparks to learn more.


15-30 minutes


Time to Get (Re)Active

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Chemists are always on the go, and you need to be able to keep up! Here’s another workout video to keep you in tip top shape with our favorite gym teacher, Joe.