Chemical Demonstrations Home Post

Please Read Me First: The chemical demonstration outreach presentation “Is It Chemistry or Magic?” traveled the American Chemical Society Speaker’s tour circuit for 15 years. This presentation was founded on four principles – 1 negative and 3 positive”

  • Chemical demonstrations cannot teach chemical principles per se.
  • Chemical demonstrations
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Chem Demo Videos:

Many claim that modern chemistry of the 20th and 21st centuries began in the late 18th century with the work by Lavoisier and the abandonment of the phlogiston theory. Of course, chemistry did not suddenly appear in the late 1700’s. One could trace chemistry back to the time of the … Read more

Chem Demo Videos:
The Scientific Method

The scientific methodis the modus operandi of science. It involves formulating and testing a theory. The theory is supported or not supported by the test results. In the event the observation does not agree with the theory, the theory has to be abandoned or revised.

In explaining the scientific … Read more

Chem Demo Videos:
Chemistry of the Planet Earth

Oxygen is about 20% of the earth’s atmosphere; consequently, combustion is an important reaction on this planet. It’s no wonder that scientists for centuries have been trying to arrive at a theory of why things burn. For example, Phlogiston theory was an attempt to explain combustion and was popular during … Read more

Chem Demo Videos:
Pyrotechnics and Explosions

No outreach chemical demonstration presentation is complete without pyrotechnics or an explosion. Demonstrations of such usually require a supply of gas (hydrogen or methane), are dangerous (sodium), or can get out of control (we recall a thermite reaction that went out of control in 1990 during a public demonstration … Read more

Chem Demo Videos:
Chemical Magic

As indicated in our title “Is It Chemistry or Magic”, we use chemical magic in our presentation.  However we are not chemical magicians! What’s the difference? Chemical magic is strictly “sleight of hand”. As in traditional magic, the object is to fool the audience. People love magic. Why? First, it’s … Read more

Chem Demo Videos:
Our Audience

At the end of our videos we have a slide that reads: “CheMagic is Otis Rothenberger, James Webb & Friends”. Our friends are those who attend our presentation. We estimate that in the 20 years of giving “Is It Chemistry or Magic?” presentations, we have had a total audience of … Read more

Chem Demo Videos:
Demonstration Strategy

In developing demonstrations for our “Is It Chemistry or Magic?” outreach program, we use a “Keep it Simple” approach. We don’t need elaborate equipment, tanks of gas, or special glassware. The contents of our show fit into 2 or 3 boxes which can be transported in the trunk of a … Read more

Chem Demo Videos:
A Household Chemistry Challenge

In this post, we offer a challenge: Suggest a potential household chemistry demonstration and we’ll attempt to turn it into an entertaining video! First, consider an example.

The CheMagic professional outreach presentation “Is It Chemistry or Magic?” has a demonstration repertoire that includes four demonstrations that we call “… Read more