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The Show Must Go On! Chemistry Magic Show Still Performed



Photo Courtesy of Christy Blevins
Photo Courtesy of Christy Blevins


Although Family Weekend on Oct. 2-4 may have been canceled at Roanoke College due to inclement weather, the Chemistry Magic show was still held that Friday. There was only one performance of the show, even though there was originally a second planned for Saturday as well.

Massengill auditorium was full of students and some visiting parents for the Chemistry Magic show at 4pm. Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics students performed “magic” acts and then explained the chemistry behind the demos. The first demo was one that hasn’t been performed at the magic show for the past several years. Senior Stacey Dixon and freshman Bridget Boenke revealed a “secret message” to the audience on a white handkerchief. The message said “Aloha” and welcomed the audience to the show. Following suit, Fran Rowe, senior, demonstrated her traditional experiment by “starting with a bang” and lit balloons filled with hydrogen gas with different metals on fire. The audience cheered for the explosions and shouted out colors that they had seen.

Photo Courtesy of Christy Blevins
Photo Courtesy of Christy Blevins


Rowe’s experiment was not the only one dealing with fire during the show. Freshman Nathan Price also demonstrated an exploding reaction during the show. In Price’s demonstration titled “Whoosh Bottle,” he coated the inside of a water jug with methanol and then lit the inside vapors with a flame, causing the combustion reaction and giant flame. In addition to Rowe and Price’s fire-related experiments, two more flame-related experiments were performed. Freshman Tiffany Peer showed the “Pop Bottle” experiment in which a Pringles can was filled with hydrogen gas and then the gas was lit causing the bottle to ‘pop’ off the table. The last experiment of the show also involved flames as students traditionally dipped a stuffed Rooney into an ethanol solution and “burned” Rooney, the magic being that Rooney did not burn at all and was not harmed.

On top of the flame demonstrations, the Magic Show had more exciting experiments to offer the audience. One of these was the crowd favorite of “Elephant’s Toothpaste” demonstrate by seniors Andrew March and Dana Layo. This year, the foaming substance was shot through a Teddy Bear container rather than carved pumpkins or glassware. Another crowd favorite at the show was the Liquid Nitrogen demonstration. Seniors Rachel Schall and Jacob Leatherwood, with assistance from Dr. Vernon Miller, froze objects with liquid nitrogen and shattered them by hitting/throwing them at the wall. To the audience’s delight, Schall and Leatherwood also made liquid nitrogen ice cream that was given out after the show in the lobby of Trexler.

Most of the other demonstrations involved color changes or glowing reactions. Lauren Miller, senior, showed a reaction titled “Mirror, Mirror,” in which she performed a Tollens test and changed a clear glass bottle into a mirrored bottled. Dixon performed a second experiment involving an oscillating chemiluminescent reaction. Similarly, senior Laura Spilman also demonstrated a color-changing reaction that fascinated the audience. Seniors Taryn Johnson and Christy Blevins performed the “Blue Moon” reaction, and although it didn’t work first try, the students were able to rework the experiment and make a glowing blue orb. One of the last experiments of the night was a Bernoulli’s test in which Hannah Lyle rolled toilet paper out over the audience using a leaf blower.

The Chemistry Magic Show, although during a rainy evening, was a success and managed to entertain the audience. Although only one show was performed, it had a great turnout and the Chemistry Department plans to continue hosting the show during future family weekends.