Observations and results
Did you see the science happen? When the vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in the paint solution is combined, they make carbonic acid. But this is a very unstable compound, so instead of making a nice calm solution, they react by bubbling and fizzing. This chemical reaction is called a decomposition reaction. Where have you seen this sort of reaction before? Can you guess what the white residue is called resulting from the experiment? Sodium acetate! The rest of the elements from the carbonic acid reaction pair off and make H2O (water) and CO2 (carbon dioxide), which makes the bubbles you see.
This activity puts some common elements, such as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and sodium to work for some outside fun. How many everyday elements can you identify in your home? Why not use construction paper and tape to label them? Table salt is sodium, Na on the periodic table, and water from the sink is H2O—a combination of (two) hydrogen atoms with oxygen, elements that are individually gaseous at room temperature.
This project is nontoxic and water-soluble. You are free to use a water hose to wash the project away or, to err on the ecofriendly side, just wait for the next downpour to let nature do the dirty work.
More to explore
"Periodic Table of Elements" from Scientific American
"Strange but True: Elemental Quest for the Building Blocks of the Universe," from Scientific American
"Ocean Acidification from CO2 Is Happening Faster Than Thought" from Scientific American
Chemistry for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments That Really Work by Janice VanCleave
Amazing Kitchen Chemistry Projects You Can Build Yourself by Cynthia Light Brown and Blair Shedd
This activity brought to you in partnership with CrazyAuntLindsey.com