Tag Archives: April Fools

DIY: Clock Reaction Experiment

Check out this tricky science for April Fools, and no it’s not magic! This is a clock reaction, meaning that it takes some time to see the effects of the reaction. However, there are actually two reactions taking place.

What we used:

  1. To two beakers  add about 150 mL of water.  
  2. In the first beaker add ½ of a tsp of sodium Iodate.
  3. To the second beaker add ¼ tsp sodium sulphide, ½ tsp citric acid, and 12 drops of a starch indicator.
  4. Make sure to stir well, so that the solutes are dissolved.


Now you are ready to mix it all together. For a little added drama, try pouring them back and forth into each other.

In the first, slower reaction the sodium iodate reacts with the sodium sulphide and turns iodide into triiodine. The triiodine then reacts with the citric acid and the result is that the solution stays clear. But, when all of the citric acid is used up, then the second reaction can start! This quicker reaction turns triiodine back into iodide and there is a very evident color change. The solution turns dark blue, indicating when the freed iodide is in the presence of starch.

Now it’s your turn to trick your friends this April Fools! Try this out at home and see if you can catch them off guard in mixing two clear liquids together.

NOTE: Use adult supervision. Many of the chemicals used in this experiment are toxic. Do not consume, but do have fun! Happy April Fools Day from all of us at AstroCamp.

DIY Invisible Ink

The simplest invisible inks consist of organic compounds like lemon juice, vinegar, diluted honey, and even white wine– all substances that subtly weaken paper fiber. Once the liquid dries, it’s undetectable under normal circumstances. Apply heat, however, and the hidden message seems to appear out of nowhere.


Organic ink makes the painted area more susceptible to oxidation. When it’s heated, it browns before the rest of the page. If you try this at home, keep a close eye on the developing ink, and be careful not to actually set the paper on fire!

LaundryUVGifFor an even more dramatic hidden ink DIY, paint your message in laundry detergent (dilute if necessary to make the ink invisible), then expose it to a blacklight. Your missive will glow!

Modern invisible inks take advantage of chemical reactions to hide, then reveal, secret communication. Phenolphthalein, for instance, is perfectly clear except in a slightly basic environment. Between pH 8 and 10, it turns pink! A dilute solution of this chemical makes a great hidden message medium– just spray it with watered-down ammonia to see the concealed writing take shape.


Note: phenolphthalein is toxic and should only be handled with proper safety gear and training. As always, ask for adult permission and have a fire extinguisher on hand when experimenting with heat & flames. Last but not least, have fun! Happy April Fools Day from Astrocamp!

Written By: Caela Barry

A Scientist’s April Fools

Warning: Don’t do this at home!  When a scientist decides to play an April Fools prank on someone, it gets pretty serious.  We pull out all the stops.  One experiment that is guaranteed to both terrify and delight is the classic alcohol money burn.

The experiment is pretty simple.  Mix some rubbing alcohol and water until your solution is about 50% alcohol.  Take a bill (we would recommend a small one in case something goes bad) and dip it into the alcohol.  Get any excess liquid off of the bill so that it isn’t dripping,  Light it on fire!



The amazing thing about this experiment is that the money doesn’t actually burn.  The fire goes out after a few seconds and the bill is unharmed.  April Fools!  But why?  The secret lies in the water.  The water mixed in with the alcohol is what is absorbing the heat of the fire, not the money.  If the bill was soaked in pure alcohol it would be roasted in seconds.  But water has a really good specific heat, meaning it takes a lot of energy to heat it up.  The alcohol doesn’t burn hot enough to overcome this specific heat,  and as a result the money stays safe.


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