Officina della Chimica – Chemistry Garage

Preparation of the propellant in the rocket chamber

“Officina della Chimica” or chemistry garage was a workshop I organized during the academic year 2014/2015 for my students.

The idea was to play with chemistry in a more relaxed environment compared to usual lectures. Only 6 students attended the workshop, but they devoted three afternoons per week, their Eastern holidays and also part of their summer holidays to the project.

I wanted the students to play the leading role in the decision of the workshop’s theme and in the realization of the project. So, we started brainstorming and watched some videos on YouTube to get inspiration.

We started trying to replicate some exothermic reactions. These kind of reaction releases energy though light or heat. At some point one of the students suggested to use the released heat to make a can fly. The experiment worked and the theme of the workshop was decided: “Development of a chemical reaction, which can be used as a propellant for homemade rocket”.

To make the challenge even more challenging we decided to participate to the contest “I giovani e le scienze” (young people and science) organized by Fast in April 2015. We managed to develop a new propellant, called Pulvis and to use it to make a homemade rocket fly. We presented the project entitled “Study, analysis and elaboration of a new propellant for homemade rockets: the Pulvis”. The contest was organized as a scientific congress: each group had a poster, where the results were stated. Jurors and other contenders could walk though the posters and ask questions.

The jury was so impressed with our achievements, that gave the group the possibility to attend the 15th MILSET Expo-Sciences International in Brussels. Also the MILSET was organized as a scientific congress, moreover it was open for the general public and so any kind of person was welcomed to attend the conference and ask questions to young scientists.

A further acknowledgment came from Finmeccanica, within the Leonardo award. The group was awarded during the Expo in Milan.

Check out our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClES0Frd9eWd57PrsxzxJzw

For further info (in Italian):

1. http://anssa.it/europa/notizie/rubriche/opportunita_giovani/2015/07/24/giovani-inventori-italiani-protagonisti-a-expo-sciences-2015_a8598040-8bbf-48f4-a148-215c658cd80a.html

2. http://www.altoadige.it/cronaca/bolzano/carburante-per-razzi-finmeccanica-premia-i-geni-del-rainerum-1.537378

3. https://www.corriere.it/economia/15_ottobre_31/finmeccanica-premi-l-innovazione-3fdb639a-7fd5-11e5-8b57-f1b8d18d1f0e.shtm

Published by Martina Bodner

Biotechnologist, PhD Candidate in Food Chemistry, Science Teacher, STEM and autism advocate, mother.

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