The Hydrogen Bomb

The Hydrogen Bomb


When I started teaching in 1966 in Quinton, NJ, I was assigned to a self-contained 7th grade class. In fact, that year, the school only had one 7th grade homeroom. The school was a K-8 school that sent its graduates to a regional High School in Salem. Our students didn't change classes except for the 8th grade (there were two homerooms there) which was split between a teacher for Math and Science and another teacher for Language Arts and Social Studies. Even those two teachers taught the rest of the subjects to their homeroom class.

I spent three years teaching 7th grade and moved to 6th grade for my fourth year. Since the school I grew up in had self-contained classes, I had no problem adjusting to the way these classes had to be taught.

Bottle of HCl

After only one year in 6th grade, the district needed an 8th grade math and science teacher and since I had been identified as a good teacher in those disciplines, I was asked to move up. The poor kids I had in 6th grade would have to face me again, though I never heard any complaints.Since I could concentrated on two main disciplines, I decided to try to peak their interests especially in science.

Here's where the hydrogen bomb comes in. About 3 months into the year, I set up a Chemistry experiment to show how reagents work. I was using Zinc (Zn) and HydroChloric Acid (HCL) to create the reaction. When HCL reacts with Zn, it creates an exothermic (heat is created) reaction and the Zn combines with the Chlorine (CL) to form Zinc Chloride and pure Hydrogen (H2) comes off.

By sealing up the reagent bottom with a stopper with a tube coming up the top and running the tubing into a jar filled with water inverted into a pan of water, the hydrogen will displace the water in the second jar. On Saturday, I tested all my equipment and everything worked perfectly and I discovered I could show that the gas would burn like a blow torch as it came out of the glass tubing. from the reagent bottle. It also could cause a fooof type explosion in the displacement jar once the water was all displaced just using a ember on a punk stick. 

On Monday, in my first class, everything was going really well. What I didn't realize was that I hadn't sealed my reagent bottle tightly enough and when I lit the end of the pipette tube to show the blow torch. The flame got sucked down into the bottle and combined with air that had leaked into it. There was a spectacular explosion and glass flew everywhere. 

God protected me and my class, because even though the kids were fairly close so they could watch, none of us were hit by flying glass. I was shaking with the realization of how we had all been protected from a real disaster. For the second class, I had the students far back and assured that the stopper was tight. 

But, by now, all the kids were telling everyone that Mr Nipe had exploded a Hydrogen Bomb in the classroom. 

Davdan @ 2008-2018