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Chemistry Lab

Question of the Day Answers

Student Exercises





May 19


Illustration of the energy bound in the molecular bonds of a molecule - combustion of foods to CO2 and H2O


In another series of reactions, the energy stored as foodstuffs that the youth ambassadors have been known to eat, gummy bears, will be demonstrated. Gummy bears are composed of sugars and other ingredients, and the though the energy released in our bodies is controlled by enzymatic reactions, Dr. Agnes will combust a gummy bear in a test tube in an uncontrolled reaction that is spectacular to watch and imagine the amount of energy released from one little gummy bear.


Approximately 6 g of chlorate is placed in a test tube. The test tube is then introduced to a heat source, heating the chlorate until it has liquefied. A sample of a material, gummy bear, sugar, stone, wood, rice, etc. is then added to the test-tube. Record observations.

2NaClO3(l) = 2NaCl(l) + 3O2(g)

C12H22O11(s) + 3O2(g) = 9C(s) + 3CO2(g) + H2O + E

Experiment Report & Results

I have been blown away with the scenery in the Altiplano, totally blue sky, incredible constellations during the very cold nights, volcanoes, lichens that are probably several hundred years old, salt flats, llamas, and flamingos. Last night the expedition team camped in a lava flow under the watch of an active volcano which was emitting a constant plume of steam.

While the incredible power of the environment is clear, the power that the youth ambassadors have demonstrated on this expedition is also nothing short of spectacular. The Ambassadors have been powering through the kilometers (miles) here on the Bolivian altiplano, many of their steps have been on salt flats, but also up and over the flanks of volcanoes.

To illustrate the energy the Ambassadors have been generating within their bodies in controlled biological pathways, I burned in an oxidative environment a gummy bear and a small scoop of the Gatorade Endurance Formula. A gummy bear is composed of sugars within gelatin. The Youth Ambassadors have been mixing the Gatorade Endurance Formula with water and filling their hydration bladders with those solutions for their running.

In the combustion reactions that can be seen in the video, the sugars in the Gummy bear and the Endurance Formula combusted at a very high rate. In this combustion, there was an excess of oxygen available in the reaction that converted sugar to carbon dioxide and water, plus a tremendous quantity of energy was released in a very short time. The sugars in the gummy bear were bound within a gelatinous matrix, and that resulted in a slower burn as compared to the, by comparison, rather violent combustion of the Gatorade Endurance Formula.

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