This summer, two high school students boldly represented the U.S. in the 44th International Chemistry Olympiad, and one of them even took home the gold.
The event, sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company, included teams from more than 70 countries competing in intense chemistry examinations.
I had a chance to speak with two of the four members of the U.S. team: Jason Ge and Chris Hillenbrand. They spoke of their love of chemistry, the state of science education in our country, and what it's like to be a total nerd.
Watch our conversation by clicking on the video above and transcript below. And don't forget to give these boys a virtual high five by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page. Come on, talk nerdy to me (and them)!
Create plasma with a grape
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME: A carefully cut grape in a microwave can create superheated gas if you set things up just right. It may look like a simple household experiment, but be prepared to destroy your microwave if you mess up! (Warning: some language in this video is inappropriate for children.)
Create 'elephant toothpaste'
With yeast, hydrogen peroxide, and assorted household goods, you can create 'elephant toothpaste.' This effect looks a little like one of the popular Diet Coke and Mentos videos on YouTube, but this one is slower and thicker and a little more alien.
Turn a light bulb on in a microwave
Water conducts electricity. Don't believe it? This simple experiment demonstrates the principle in a bright way.
Make your own lava lamp
This one's a little bit complicated, but the end result is impressive and even downright psychedelic.
Lower your voice with sulfur hexafluoride
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME: In the same way that inhaling helium makes your voice higher, inhaling sulfur hexafluoride makes it lower.