10Jan12 – ChemCamp and Steel Wool

I found these first two pictures on Jack’s cell phone, which he took at ChemCamp, a class he take with Michael Finnigan, one of the founders of Quantum Camps.


We have been taking classes from them for years, and have seen them grow from two school teachers offering a physics class in the garage of a homeschooler to running a full-fledged business, offering science and math classes in two locations in the Bay Area, and having to hire other teachers and administrators! Michael and Ryan still teach a lot of the physics and math classes, and Jack, who isn’t always eager for outside classes, was happy to do ChemCamp with them this semester. It is basically an introduction to chemistry by conducting experiments from history (what the original chemists and alchemists did in figuring out the periodic table) and making their way through the elements. I always think of Uncle Vince when I go over chemistry homework, or write down their progress in class, because I know Vince enjoyed talking chemistry with the boys and might even have taught them some lab chemistry the next time we went to Michigan and they had some under their belt.

These last few pictures are from some experiments Luke and I did with steel wool – burning it and trying to figure out if steel wool loses mass or gains it (it does gain mass/weight, because fire is actually oxidation of the steel wool, which means it combines with oxygen and gains weight). Luke loves doing experiments, and with some older chemistry books (that don’t dumb down the subject), we have found lots of experiments we can safely do at home and still learn a lot of chemistry.

If you can’t tell, the steel wool on the left is the one we burned.


Leave a Comment