This activity is a bit different. It is a magic trick used to model how a catalyst is used to combine two chemicals.
A catalyst is a chemical that changes the rate of a
chemical reaction, but does not become part of the product. Following
is a fun way to demonstrate how a catalyst might be used to put two
chemicals together. The strip of paper represents the catalyst and the
different colored paper clips represent two different chemicals.
Purpose To model the action of a catalyst.
2 metal paper clips with different colored plastic coverings
1. Cut a 2-by-8-inch (5-by-20-cm) strip of paper. Notebook paper or copy paper works well.
2. Fold the paper in three parts as shown. Look at the diagram
carefully. Note that the spotted paper clip on the left is clipped on
the first two layers of the folded paper. The black paper clip on the
right is clipped on the second and third layers of the folded paper.
3. Hold the two ends of the folded paper and slowly pull in opposite directions until the paper is stretched out.
Caution: If you pull the paper quickly, the combined paper clips tend to fly out. Eyes need to be protected.
The movement of the paper results in the paper clips being joined. If put a handful of red spotted and black paper clips in a bowl and shook them, the paper clips would hit against each other, but they usually do not combine because of this action. If you shake a large number of paper clips over time, eventually some of the clips will combine. This represents a random chance combination of chemicals. The folded paper represents a catalyst which increases the possibility that two chemicals (colored paper clips) will combine. The combined paper clips represent a new chemical product. The catalyst is actively
involved in the chemical reaction (combination of the paper clips) but is not a reactant or part of the product. The catalyst can be used over and over again.
Enzymes are catalyst in living organisms.
For more information about enzymes, see Janice VanCleave’s Food and Nutrition for Every Kid.