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Vacuum Question

Materials
vacuum chamber and pumper
large marshmallow
balloon

Procedure
Wear safety goggles.

1. Place one large marshmallow in the vacuum chamber.
2. Cover the chamber with the dome and insert the pumper into the rubber septum.
3. Raise and lower the pumper slowly and observe what happens to the marshmallow.
4. The more times you pump, the more air is drawn out of the chamber.
5. After you have made your observations, you can release the vacuum and allow the pressure inside to return to atmospheric pressure. Do this by removing the pumper and squeezing the rubber septum as indicated.
6. Observe what happens to the marshmallow when the vacuum is released.
7. Remove the marshmallow.

Now try it with a balloon
1. Inflate the balloon to about an inch or two and tie a knot in it. It must fit in the chamber with room to spare so do not inflate it too much.
2. Place the small, inflated balloon in the chamber. Repeat steps 2 through 7.

The marshmallow has a large amount of air trapped in the pores of its carbohydrate structure. As the air is drawn out of the vacuum chamber, the pressure outside the marshmallow is reduced. The pressure of the air inside the marshmallow causes the air inside to expand. Thus you should have observed a change in the size of the marshmallow. A similar phenomenon occurs when the small, inflated balloon is placed in the chamber. As the air is removed from the chamber and the pressure is reduced on the outside walls of the balloon, the air pressure inside the balloon is greater than outside. It pushes the rubber walls of the balloon outward. You should observed a change in the size of the balloon.

In both experiments with the marshmallow and the balloon, once the vacuum was released, the air pressure inside the chamber increased back to atmospheric pressure.

Questions
1. Why does the air inside the marshmallow or balloon fill a larger volume when some of the air outside them is removed?
2. Why does the balloon return to its original size when the vacuum is released?
3. Can you explain this phenomenon in terms of the kinetic molecular theory of gases?
4. What gas law is being demonstrated by this expanding volume of gas as the pressure is being reduced?

Solution Preview

1. Why does the air inside the marshmallow or balloon fill a larger volume when some of the air outside them is removed?
As the air is drawn out of the vacuum chamber, the pressure outside the skin of the marshmallow or the balloon is reduced. According to Boyle's Law, a reduction in pressure causes an increase in the volume, as the product of the two should remain constant, all other things being equal. This is the reason why the air inside the marshmallow or the balloon expands to fill a larger volume when the air outside is removed.

2. Why does the balloon return to its ...

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