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'It went really, really high'

Cary Ashby • Jul 11, 2017 at 12:00 PM

When 8-year-old Alaina Holland was outside her Collins home, her family tested what would happen if they put a mint inside a two-liter bottle of Coke.

“It went really, really high,” said the daughter of Megan and Craig.

Monday there was a smaller version of the same experiment at the Norwalk Public Library. About a dozen children in grades three through five chose a liquid (vinegar, a small bottle of Diet Coke or soapy water) to mix with an “agitater” (baking soda, Alka-Seltzer tablets or Mentos).

The results varied: From soapy liquid that slowly bubbled to the top — and often out of — the bottle to a quick, foamy eruption that happened seconds after the two substances were mixed together.

Library assistant Stephanie Sanders-Jacob led the children through the various experiments. She first combined the liquids with the baking soda, Alka-Seltzer or Mentos that the children chose and then had them choose other combinations until they exhausted their options.

The children’s program is a part of the “Summer of Science” series at the library. Sanders-Jacob earlier led a similar program during Women’s History Month in what was called GEMS, which stands for Girls Engineering and Making Stuff.

“It’s the first year,” she said, referring to the “Summer of Science.” “I think we are going to continue it through the year, just under a different name.”

Each session of GEMS included a topic and project. 

“This time we opened it up to everybody for the summer reading program,” Sanders-Jacob said.

Holland enjoyed what happened when the Diet Coke and Mentos were combined.

“It started to fizz and came out really fast,” she said.

Many of the mixtures, such as Diet Coke and baking soda, only left about one-third of the liquid inside the bottle after the initial eruption. 

Sanders-Jacob put a new balloon over the mouth of the bottle that combined Alka-Seltzer and soapy water, which caused the balloon to inflate. It remained that way for the remainder of the hour-long program. 

Courtney Bartow, 10, of Norwalk, most enjoyed seeing that combination because she liked seeing the balloon expand.

“The simplest one was the most exciting, in my opinion,” said Sanders-Jacob, who believes vinegar and soapy water reacted the least.

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