Chemistry Experiment Blows Students Away


Daisy Ray

Kaitlin Marler’s green fire experiment

Gabi de Oliveira

If you heard an explosion at Highland, there’s nothing to fear– it was just a balloon. 

Chemistry students at Highland got a special show from student teacher Kaitlin Marler. For four years, Marler, who has a B.A. in chemistry, has been a member of the American Chemical Society, doing demos in schools throughout Salt Lake Valley. 

“I love doing demonstrations for schools,” Marler said. “I’ve spent the last four years training and practicing in and even coming up with chemical education demonstrations.”

Today, Highland got to see these firsthand. 

Marler wowed students in Mrs. Oliver’s, Mrs. Cornwall, and Mr. Kohler’s classes all day long. Donning a blue fire proof coat and goggles, Marler had only a small setup in the Little Theater that included a handful of vials, several balloons, and a lighter. Using the tools at hand, she created a thirty minute spectacle.

Marler had a range of experiments to show, never resting before her next feat. Beginning with liquid nitrogen that doesn’t fall out of its containers, she moved on to show how chemical reactions can be colorful and fun. Marler made green fire fly out of a gallon in the whoosh bottle experiment, then changed liquids in a vial from clear to dark blue with a wave of her hand in the iodine clock experiment. 

The main event was the explosions. First to go was an oxygen balloon that popped in fire. Marler followed with the explosions of hydrogen and hydrogen-oxygen balloons. 

“You may want to cover your ears for this one,” said Marler before the final explosion.

An excited crowd watched the balloon go up in flames. The show ended with Oliver and Marler performing a deep voiced rendition of the periodic table song, helped by sulfur hexafluoride inhaled before. 

Next fall, Marler will be a first year chemistry teacher. Her classes are sure to be interesting.