Lessons from a Microwave

Tonight I’m leading the youth group at our church in an hour I’m calling Lessons Learned from a Microwave. This past Sunday, we had a group of them out for the afternoon to perform a variety of “science” experiments using a Microwave to cook different objects. If I remember correctly, we nuked a banana, 4 hot dogs, marshmellows, an orange, a CD, two frozen eggs, a fruit snack, semi-frozen grapes, a cell phone, and a large ball of aluminum foil. While some of these objects behaved “as expected” or did not show much in terms of exciting results, others surprised us. Overall, it was a great afternoon, and in the process no one got hurt, we didn’t need the fire extinguisher, and I believe a variety of lessons, or at least life truths, can be taken from the experience. I’m going to share our videos, along with some of those things they’ve made me think of, with the teens tonight. I’m also curious what they will come up with as applications of the knowledge we have gained. These are the types of “lessons” I love teaching, because the real life application has already been demonstrated (albeit on an unrelated-to-normal-life situation), now we’re just seeing how to take what we’ve already seen (and been mesmerized by) and apply it to our day-to-day life.

I think we’ll just shoot through the videos in the order we shot them, and see what we get from that. I’ll include the vids that I put on youtube in this post.

 

1. CARLOS THE BANANA

  • Observations… the microwave made a TERRIBLE humming noise sounding much like it might actually blow up.
  • The banana kind of wiggled. My guess is the contents were starting to boil, and since the peel was so soft from being over-ripe, it basically conformed to fit the shape of it’s contents.
  • It smelled GREAT. Just like fresh banana bread… but it did not LOOK at all appetising.
  • It developed a tumor of sorts.
  • “The Microwaves are too large to fit through the little grate.” What a nice quote. 🙂
  • When finally done being nuked, the damage was very evident.
 

2. A QUAD OF HOT DOGS

  • These were rather uneventful, possibly because they were already cooked?
 

3. BOB THE MARSHMELLOW, AND HIS FAMILY

  • We started with a variety of “sizes” of marshmellow groups… a single, a double, and a family.
  • Within 30 seconds, everything was already expanding… slowly at first, and then quite rapidly.
  • Quote: “They all became one big family.”
  • Eventually they stopped expanding, began bubbling, and eventually burned and collapsed.
  • Black spots appeared as they continued to be nuked.
  • The room smelled strangly good, like roasted marshmellows, along with a little tint of banana bread.
  • They came out black, crispy, and rather plastic like.
 

4. A SLIGHTLY OVER-RIPE ORANGE

  • This was another good smelling experiment.
  • The skin appeared to be tougher, and didn’t really move around, even though the contents clearly got above boiling temperature.
  • Something must of eventually “popped” because we heard steam escaping and smelled a nice, fresh, orange smell, like a room deodorizor or cleaner.
  • Quote: “It will become a gas and probably explode.”
 

5. A COMPACT DISC

  • Of all of our tests, this was my personal favorite. Primarily because of the rapid response to radiation, and the way it really made everyone jump.
  • Bright flashes and crackling almost immediately.
  • Burn marks in organized circles and lines.
  • Quote: “That would be the winner.”
 

6. FROZEN EGGS (PRE-CRACKED AND UNBLEMISHED)

  • Another personal favorite.
  • Several progressive steps in the experiment. First, a crack developed. Sortly after that, hard boiled ooze began to come out, and soon after that, bubbles. Eventually, it exploded.
  • The excitement peakes around 1:20 – 1:30.
  • The pre-cracked egg gave us much less excitement, but also survived the experiment much better.
  • No baby chickens appeared.
  • Quote: “Chet, your eggs have rabies.” or “I almost died.”
 

7. A SMALL LITTLE FRUIT SNACK

  • It crackled quickly, kind of melted into a gel, and then kind of squirmed like it was alive.
  • Shrapnel from the egg leftovers occasionally popped.
  • The end result was more like glue than a melted snack.
  • Quote: “This is fruty snack senior, and he’s about to explode.”
 

8. SEMI-FROZEN GRAPES

  • We wanted to nuke these frozen, but didn’t get them completely frozen.
  • Not a very quick reaction… they were probably boiling inside, eventually, but apparently the skin could hold tight.
  • Quote: “They’re not completely frozen, but they’ll do… I think.”
 

9. AN INTACT CELL PHONE, WITH BATTERY

  • This was the first experiment moved outside. We expected nothing specifically, but hoped for fire, smoke, and perhaps even damage to the microwave. We wound up using about 100′ of extension cable, running the microwave on a frozen pond.
  • One person dared to stick their head in front of the cooker.
  • Crackling started rather quickly, and it was hard to see anything inside the microwave, so Ryan sacrificed himself to get the shot.
  • This was our first experiment to actually catch fire. Lots of smoke as well.
  • The LCD screen seemed to burn best. The battery really didn’t do all that much in the time we gave it.
  • Quote: “You’re gonna wanna get back. You’re really gonna wanna get back. “
 

10. A LOOSE BALL OF ALUMINUM FOIL.

  • The foil was rather eclipsed by the still burning cell phone components.
  • We did get fire, but not as pretty as the cell phone, and not as energetic as the CD. This one was a bit of a let down, I think… after everything else.
  • Quote: “Ryan, if you die, it’s not our fault.”
 

We finished up with a beat down of our donated microwave. It now sits in a scrap pile in my back yard, after being used, abused, and then beaten. But it was well worth it, and it served us well. Thank you, Hilliard family. You have made our day.

So what can be learned from all this? Or at least observed, that might have some sort of relevance to real life? Well… that’s for you to observe and experiment with, I guess… at least until after I talk through this with the teens tonight.

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