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ERIC Number: EJ860296
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 7
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
The Cornstarch Flamethrower
Concannon, Tom
Physics Teacher, v46 n8 p477-481 Nov 2008
Doing physics "magic shows" for the general public or for local area schools is usually an integral part of any physics department's outreach program. These demonstration shows should not only teach fundamental physics principles with "standard" demonstrations (like the rocket cart) but should also include the "wow!" types of demonstrations for maximum audience impact. Presenters quickly discover the audience's thirst for spectacular demonstrations; if too few "wow!" demonstrations are performed, the presenter can lose the audience's attention, or, worse, the audience may get bored and leave. Some of the more exciting demonstrations include, for example, the Van de Graaff generator, a large Tesla coil, the bed of nails, liquid nitrogen experiments, imploding gas cans, breaking a glass container with sound waves, and igniting cornstarch powder. The focus of this paper is a suggested improvement to this last demonstration, to enhance the "dust explosion" effect for demonstration show purposes. At the end, I also describe a small-scale version for use in classrooms, where the physics and chemistry of dust explosions can be explored in more detail than possible in a demonstration show atmosphere.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A