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Denaturing Proteins

The objective of this experiment is to determine whether all proteins denature at the same

Research Question:
What happens when a protein denatures?
Do all proteins denature at the same temperature?
What temperature does albumen denature at?
What temperature does keratin denature at?
What temperature does casein denature at?
Why might proteins denature at different temperatures?
Denaturation is a process in which proteins lose their structure when attacked by forces like a strong
acid, heat, or a solvent like alcohol. If a protein is denatured, it can die. In this experiment, you will
determine the temperature that will denature proteins like albumen, casein, and keratin. Eggs are
mostly albumen, milk is largely casein, and hair is mostly keratin.
Small saucepan
6 eggs (any size)
2 mixing bowl
Candy thermometer
Powered Milk
Cookie Sheet
Aluminium foil
Hair from a hairbrush
Toaster oven (or conventional oven)
Experimental Procedure
Crack an egg over the first bowl and separate the yolk and white. Use two bowls, keeping all the whites
in one of the bowls. Make sure that your yolks do not contaminate the whites.
Transfer the whites into a small saucepan. Place the candy thermometer into the saucepan.
Gently heat the whites. Record the temperature when their texture changes.
Clean the saucepan, thermometer, and bowls.
Make two cups of reconstituted powdered milk according to the package directions and add to the
saucepan. Place the candy thermometer in the saucepan.
Gently heat the milk. Record what temperature the texture of the milk changes or a skim forms over the
Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
Preheat the oven for ten minutes to 200 degrees.
Using a comb, pull all the hair out of a hairbrush and put on the cookie sheet.
Put the cookie sheet and hair into the oven. Let it heat up for 15 minutes. Inspect the hair for any
Increase the temperature by 25 degrees. After 15 minutes, inspect the hair again.
Keep increasing the temperature in 25-degree increments. Note when the hair texture changes.
Why Doesn't the Ocean Freeze?

Why doesn’t the ocean freeze?
8 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
2 large plastic bowls
Dry-erase marker
Label the bowls “Bowl 1” and “Bowl 2.”
Measure out 4 cups of water.
Pour the water into Bowl 1.
Pour 4 more cups of water into Bowl 2.
Add 2 tablespoons of salt to Bowl 2 a little at the time, stirring until the salt is completely
Leave both bowls in the freezer overnight.
Check to see if both bowls are frozen.
Record your results.
The water in Bowl 1 should have frozen. Bowl 2’s water should still be liquid.
The water in Bowl 2 approximates the same concentration of salt found in the ocean’s water.
Salt is the key to understanding our experiment’s results! Here’s why: The more salt in the
water, the lower the temperature has to be for the water to freeze.
This is why the ocean doesn’t freeze: There’s too much salt in it. Bodies of water located farther
inland like islands and rivers have less salt in them, allowing them to freeze when the
temperature drops to 0 degrees Celsius.
Digging Deeper
The beauty of science is that we never run out of opportunities to learn. Try repeating this
experiment with several bowls of water of varying salt concentrations. Which ones freeze?
Which ones remain liquid?
The Limewater Carbon Dioxide Test

How can we test for the presence of carbon dioxide?
Container with lid (a plastic food container would work fine)
Distilled water
Tap water
Calcium oxide (lime)
¼ cup measuring cup
White vinegar
Small shallow dish (a baby food jar or a salad dressing cup work great)
2 clear water bottles
Modeling clay
2 bendy straws
Toilet paper
Baking soda
Take the container with a lid and add 1L of distilled water and 1 teaspoon of calcium oxide. Stir
with the spoon.
Let the solution sit overnight. This will be your limewater. Why do we refer to it as limewater?
Fill the small, shallow dish with limewater.
Take modeling clay and mold it into a ring just below the bendable part of your straw.
Add ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup of white vinegar into the water bottle.
Take 1 square of toilet paper and spread some baking soda in the middle of the paper. Roll it up
and twist the ends of the toilet paper so the baking soda does not spill out.
Drop of the baking soda in the toilet paper into the water bottle.
Immediately insert the end of the straw into the water bottle, making sure that it is submerged
in the liquid. Use the modeling clay to seal the straw into the neck of water bottle.
Bend the end of the straw and submerge it in your container of limewater.
Observe what happens. Record your observations.
Add ¼-cup of limewater to another clear water bottle.
Make a second modeling clay plug around your second bendy straw and insert the straw and
plug into the water bottle.
Take a deep breath and exhale into the straw so your breath goes into the limewater. Be
careful not to suck any lime water up!
Record your observations.
When carbon dioxide, CO2, enters the limewater, the limewater becomes cloudy. When you
exhale into the bottle, the limewater will turn cloudy.
Chemists refer to baking soda as sodium bicarbonate, a compound with the chemical formula
NaHCO3. Vinegar is a mixture of acetic acid (CH3COOH) and water (H20). When the two are
combined, the following reaction takes place:
NaHCO3+ HC2H3O2→ NaC2H3O2+ H2O + CO2
But this is known to happen in two steps:
NaHCO3+ HC2H3O2→ NaC2H3O2+ H2CO3,
...where carbonic acid is formed, and finally
H2CO3→ H2O + CO2,
...where carbonic acid breaks down into water and CO2. The CO2 then bubbles up through the
straw and into the limewater.
Limewater is created with calcium hydroxide, or Ca(OH)2. Named for the mineral, not the fruit,
lime reacts with CO2 in water to form calcium carbonate, which is white and does not dissolve
in water, causing the water to turn cloudy.
Similarly, when we exhale we are removing CO2 from our bodies, so breathing CO2 into the lime
water will produce the same reaction, though probably not as quickly due to the smaller
amount of CO2 in your breath.

Leaf Chromatography

How Can the Different Pigments in Leaves Be Revealed?

 Soft green leaves (if no leaves are available, fresh spinach works fine, too)
 Scissors
 Mortar and pestle or food processor
 Glass or ceramic cup
 Isopropyl alcohol (or acetone in nail polish remover, but be careful—acetone creates
more fumes)
 Flat coffee filters
 Tape
 Pencil or straw

1. Use the scissors to cut up enough leaves to make a ¼ cup of pieces.
2. Use the food processor or mortar and pestle to grind the leaves into a fine pulp.
3. Pour the pulpy leaves into the cup. What color do you see?
4. Pour enough isopropyl alcohol over the leaves to cover them. Stir. Why can’t you use
water as solvent?
5. Cut out strip of coffee filter paper about 6 inches long and 1 inch wide.
6. Attach the strip to the pencil with a piece of tape. Make sure the bottom of the strip
hangs straight.
7. Adjust the length of the filter paper strip so that the bottom just touches the green liquid
in the cup.
8. Checking every couple minutes, wait for the band of solvent to migrate to the top of the
filter paper. Different colored bands should become evident along the strip.
9. Study your strip, and try to identify the pigments.

Your results will vary depending on the types of leaves that you chose and how careful
your leaf chromatography technique was. You might not see all the pigments. An
orange-colored band is likely to be near the top. Below that, you should see a yellowish
band, a blue-green band, and a greenish-yellowish band, respectively.

When you ground up your leaves, the pulp was probably green because of the
overwhelming amount of chlorophyll. You were instructed not to use water as a solvent
because the pigments in leaves are not very soluble in it: they are much more soluble in
solvents like alcohol or nail polish remover. The orange colored band, made of the
pigment called carotenoids. is the most soluble in alcohol, so it traveled the farthest.
The yellow xanthophylls are the next most soluble, followed by the blue-green
chlorophyll A. The least soluble pigment is the yellow green chlorophyll B. You may be
wondering why plants have more than one pigment. One reason is that these differently
colored pigments absorb different colors of light: by having many pigments, plants can
use more of the light energy shining down them.

Going Further
Investigate what colors of light plants grow best in. Buy a green, blue and red light bulb.
See what color of light seem to be the best for growth.

How Much Oxygen is in the Air?

The air is made up of about 21 percent oxygen. This science projects allows you to find this percentage
for yourself through examining a chemical reaction between oxygen and rust.
Research Question:
How much oxygen is in the air?
How much oxygen is in the air? This experiment will help you find out. You will create rust, and then make
use of the fact that rust and oxygen interact with each other chemically to determine what percentage of
the air in a tube was made up of oxygen.

 Glass jar
 White vinegar
 Pad of soap-free fine steel wool
 Wide, shallow bowl or pan
 Water
 Food coloring
 Plastic or rubber gloves
 Four test tubes
 Permanent marker

Experimental Procedure

1. Fill the jar with an equal volume of white vinegar and water.
2. Place the pad of steel wool in the jar, and leave it there overnight to soak. This will form iron oxide (rust)
on the steel.
3. Pour about an inch of water into the bottle of a shallow bowl. Add two drops of food coloring to the bowl.
4. While wearing gloves, pull several strands of the steel wool from the rusted pad, and roll them together to
make a small ball. Repeat this process two more times so that you have three small balls. The balls
should be slightly wider than the test tubes.
5. Use a pencil to push one ball all the way to the end of one of the test tubes, one ball three quarters to the
end of a second test tube, and one ball halfway into a third test tube.
6. Crumple up a small ball of paper to the same size as the balls of steel wool, and push it all the way into
the fourth tube.
7. Place the four tubes upside down in a row in the shallow dish of prepared water. Leave them there for 24
8. Mark the water level on each tube. Observe the differences in water level. The tube with the paper in it
should not have risen at all. Now measure the length of each tube, assuming that the bottom of the steel
ball marks the top of the tube. Insert both of these measurements into a chart such as the one below.
9. Fill in the fourth column of the chart by dividing the height the water rose by the height of the test tube.
Keep in mind that the water that moved up the tube was replacing the oxygen that reacted with the rust.
The ratio of the three test tubes should be the same, since it is the same as the percentage of oxygen in
the air, or about 21%.
Crystal Fudge

Find out what happens when the fudge crystallizes at different temperatures.
Research Question:
Why do some rocks that are made out of the same minerals have different-sized crystals in them?
What effect will faster vs. slower cooling have on the formation of crystals?
Fudge is one of very few desserts people make at home that is actually crystalline, or made out of
crystals. This gives us a fun, tasty way to explore the process of crytalization.
Two bread pans (disposable 8” pie tins will also work)
Butter to coat pans, or waxed paper
Large saucepan (3-4 quart)
Wooden spoon
Candy thermometer
Pastry brush
3oz. unsweetened chocolate
3c sugar
1c warm half-and-half or evaporated whole milk
1T corn syrup ¼t salt
3T butter
2t vanilla extract
1c mix-ins of your choice: nuts, mini marshmallows, dried fruit… (optional)
Magnifying glass
Experimental Procedure
Butter the pans or line them with the waxed paper.
Mix the chocolate, sugar, salt, half-and-half, and corn syrup over medium-low heat. Keep stirring until
the chocolate is melted and the fudge begins to boil. Note: the fudge is extremely hot at this point,
handle with care!
As soon as the fudge begins to boil, stop stirring and put the candy thermometer in. Clip it to the edge of
the pot, making sure the tip isn’t touching the bottom.
Let the fudge cook without any stirring until it reaches the soft-ball stage, around 237 degrees.
While the fudge cooks, dip the pastry brush in a little warm water and use it to carefully wash any
sugar/chocolate/whatever off the sides of the pot.
Take the fudge off of the burner and let it cool, undisturbed, until it’s 150 degress.
Add the vanilla and butter and keep stirring until the surface of the fudge starts to get dull. This can take
a long time, but you need to keep stirring! Maybe you can get a partner to help.
Once the fudge has begun to dull, stir in your add-ins, a quarter-cup at a time, if you’re using any. Make
sure they’re at room temperature or a little warmer if possible.
Spoon half of the fudge into each pan. Put one pan in the refrigerator and leave the other one out at
room temperature. Allow both of them to cool completely.
Cut each panful of fudge into one-inch cubes. Pick up a cube from each pan and examine them closely.
Use your eyes and the magnifying glass: do you see any differences in texture? Use your tongue: does
one seem more smooth and waxy while the other is more grainy? Is there a difference in flavor? The
fudge that cooled more slowly, at room temperature, should be grainier and have noticeable sugar
crystals in it. This is like a plutonic igneous rock that has cooled and solidified slowly, under the surface,
like granite. The one that cooled more quickly, in the refrigerator, should be smoother and have much
smaller crystals, probably too small for you to see even with the magnifying glass. This is like a volcanic
igneous rock that cooled quickly above the earth’s surface, like obsidian.
Now offer samples of each to your family and friends so they can decide which they like best!

Rate of Diffusion

How is diffusion affected by hot and cold temperature, and why does the shape of the container make a
Food coloring (red & blue)
2 clear glass cups of the exact same size and shape
2 differently shaped clear containers (narrow and wide), preferably about the same size
Procedure: Temperature Difference
Fill one glass cup with hot water. Fill the second glass cup with cold water.
Drop 1-2 drops of red food coloring in the hot cup, and 1-2 drops of blue food coloring in the cold in the
cold one.
Watch and wait for color to disperse entirely.
Observations & Results
You should have noticed that the red food coloring in the hot water dispersed much more quickly than
the blue food coloring in the cold water did. This is because particles vibrate faster and harder when
they’re warmer—the hot water molecules struck the food coloring molecules harder and more
frequently, scattering them until the cup ended up containing a homogeneous solution.
Procedure: Differently Shaped Containers
Fill both containers with the same temperature of water.
Drop one drop of food coloring in each of container and compare their rate of diffusion.
Observations & Results
The narrowest container will likely have demonstrated the slower rate of diffusion because fewer
molecules are in contact with each other, meaning fewer collisions of the solvent with the solute.
Temperature and the shape of the containers affected the rate of diffusion in both experiments.
Particles move faster in warmer water, so the red coloring spread more quickly through the cup. The
narrow shape of the containers used in the second experiment slowed down diffusion because of the
container’s effect on Brownian motion (the mechanism behind diffusion).

Turning Hand Warmers into Hot Ice

This experiment provides a graphic illustration of the chemical reaction that transpires when
you activate a hand warmer.

Research Questions:
 What is in hand warmers?
 How do hand warmers work?
 Why does the “hot ice” form in thie experiment?

Hand warmers provide instant heat on a cold day. They're also useful for making

 Five Reusable Hand Warmers
 Scissors
 Plate
 Bottle

Experimental Procedure
1. Activate one of the hand warmers.
2. When it turns white and stops giving off heat, cut it open and remove a single crystal.
3. Place the crystal on a plate.
4. Cut open the other four hand warmers and pour their contents into the bottle.
5. Carefully pour the contents of the bottle onto the crystal. Watch the effect. Voila! You
are a modern artist!
Sugar Crystallization

Discover which kind of sugar will be quickest to form crystals.

Research Questions
 What does applying heat to the water before adding the sugar allow it to do?
 How do natural crystals form?
 What happens when a solution is supersaturated?
 How is each type of sugar derived and what are its chemical properties?

Have you ever wondered how candy is made? Rock candy is one of the earliest forms
of sweets and can be easily created in your own home with basic ingredients and some
When people think of sugar, the first thing that comes to mind is usually white
granulated sugar, which is the most common. However, there are actually different
types of sugars that are different colors, textures, forms, consistencies, and/or obtained
in different ways and from different sources. For example, brown sugar is tinted brown
because there is molasses in its composition. Powdered sugar is actually super-crushed
regular white granulated sugar that is usually used in baking.
Rock candy is created through processes called crystallization and supersaturation.
There is an excess amount of sugar in the sugar vs. water ratio, thus crystals form as
the water gradually evaporates (turns from a liquid to a gas). The cool thing about rock
candy is that the shape of the candy is actually the shape of the tiny individual sugar
crystals magnified and is basically just many tiny sugar crystals grown together.
In this experiment, you are dealing with heat and an open flame. Keep any other
materials away from the flame. The liquid inside will be boiling hot. Adult supervision
throughout the experiment is also highly recommended.

 2 cups of regular granulated cane sugar (white)

 2 cups of brown sugar
 2 cups of powdered sugar
 6 cups of water (two cups for each type of sugar)
 3 small and thoroughly cleaned transparentglass jars (preferably the same size)
 Cotton string (found in hardware stores, or craft stores)
 3 screws, galvanized washers, paper clips, or just some kind of small weight to hang on
the string
 3 pencils to suspend the string in the jar (length must be wider than the opening of the
 3 labels, a notepad/notebook for notes, and a pen/marker
 Camera
 Small saucepan
 Wooden spoon
 Measuring cup
 Wax paper
 Pair of anti-heat gloves, pot holders, or oven mitts

1. Gather the materials in one spot: this is a nice habit to learn so that you don't have to
fumble around for materials during the experiment and so that you can enjoy the whole
2. Label your three glass jars “White Sugar”, “Brown Sugar”, and “Powdered Sugar.”Set
them aside.
3. Making sure an adult is there to supervise, turn the stove up to medium-high heat and
boil the water in the saucepan.
4. Take two cups of white sugar and carefully pour theminto the boiling water,
stirringcontinuously with a wooden spoon to help the sugarcomplete dissolve. When the
solutionreaches a rolling boil, it's ready. Note how fast it dissolves. Remove from heat.
5. Take the glass jar labeled “White Sugar” and carefully pour the solution into the jar.
Take a small piece of wax paper and cover the opening of the jar.
6. Measure a piece of cotton string that is two-thirds the depth of your glass jar. Tie the
small weight you chose to one end of the string and tie the other end to the pencil.
Carefully dip the string (washer end first) into the solution andlet it soak for a couple
minutes. Then remove the string, straighten it out, and lay it flat to dry on wax paper for
three days (leaving thepencil and the washer attached).
7. Repeat steps 3–7 for the Brown Sugar and the Powdered Sugar. Important: remember
which string went in which solution! Also, be sure not to throw out the sugar solution in
the jars. You'll be using it after the three days have passed.
8. After the three daywaiting period for prepping the strings is over, simply suspend the
three cotton strings in their respective jars (with the liquid sugar solution in the jars)at
room temperature for about one week. Do not touch the strings asmovement will disturb
the growth process. You should observe, note, and, if possible,take photos of the day-
to-day growth of crystals for each jar. A chart is included below as a suggestion.
9. After one week, you should see at least some sugar crystals. They should be clear and
in rather spiky and sharp formations. Compare and contrast the growth, size, and shape
of the sugar crystals in all three jars. Are there any differences? Similarities?
Glue from Milk

 Why do curds form in milk?

 What is a protein?How does it differ from a sugar or a fat?
 What is casein?How can you extract it from milk?How is it used?

Milk can be transformed into curds and whey by adding (1) rennet or (2) a mild acid
such as acetic acid. Since vinegar is acetic acid, it is used in this experiment instead of
more expensive reagent grade materials. After curds form and are separated from the
whey, the acid is neutralized with the sodium bicarbonate.
The clumps of curds are comprised of casein, a protein found in milk. Casein proteins
make up 3% of whole milk. Glues made from casein include products such as Elmer’s
and other woodworking glues. The relationship between the Borden Company, it’s
mascot Elsie-the-Cow and glue becomes more apparent when you consider that
Borden purchased the Casein Company in 1929, and introduced its first glue, called
Casco glue in 1932. Casein can also be poured into molded into forms to making a
variety of plastic items such as combs, bead, button and umbrella handles.

 Non-fat milk or skim milk

 Glass or enamel saucepan
 Tablespoon
 Access to a stove
 White vinegar
 Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
 Babyfood jar or similar contain for the glue

1. Put a pint of milk into a saucepan.Add six tablespoons of white vinegar and stir.
2. Heat the saucepan on a stove using low to medium heat. Stir continuously and watch
closely. After a while, you will observe clumps forming in the milk.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat as soon as you observe clumps forming in the
milk. These clumps indicate that the milk is curdling.
4. Continue stirring until the curdling stops.
5. Pour off the liquid portion (this is called whey) of the milk, leaving the curds behind in
the pot. Remove as much of the liquid as possible.
6. Add ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Stir well.Don’t
be alarmed if small bubbles appear because this means that the bicarbonate is
neutralizing the vinegar. The resulting product will be glue.
7. Transfer the glue to a baby food jar.
8. Glue two pieces of paper using a small amounts of mixture you made in step 6 and let
me them. Once the glue is completely dry (roughly 5 minutes), you should find that the
papers are permanently stuck together.