Chemistry Students Test Gas Laws

To understand gas laws, junior chemistry students examined the science behind airbags for two weeks. They analyzed what chemicals are in the steering column, what happens when a car crashes to inflate the airbag, and what considerations, such as pressure, volume, temperature, and amount of gas, scientists use in order to inflate an airbag in 0.03 seconds.

“Since students do not have access to the chemical used in airbags, sodium azide, they are recreating the experience of an airbag using baking soda and vinegar.” says Chemistry teacher Olivia Heeter. “This requires them to use their knowledge of stoichiometry to properly calculate the mass of each substance in order to perfectly inflate their bag.”

In the adapted version of the lab, students recreated the experience of an airbag by using baking soda and vinegar in a Ziploc bag. To test their airbags, they then conducted an egg drop lab. To protect their eggs from impact, students had to measure pressure, temperature, volume, and the amount of CO2 required to fill their Ziploc bag.

See below for an example of how the experiment worked.

Egg Drop Challenge