A $100 bill was deliberately lit on fire Thursday at Madison Middle School by the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math club of North Platte Community College.

The show was organized for Madison’s High Ability Learner students, with activities demonstrating the science of chemicals and materials.

The middle school students enjoyed the edible activities. STEM students Aurora Storrer and Emily Anderson demonstrated liquid nitrogen.

When a person ate Pringles that had been immersed in liquid nitrogen, the nitrogen changed from a liquid to a gas that looked like smoke, rising from the chips, but perfectly safe to eat. The nitrogen also gives food a fresh crisp texture. It’s a great way to bring stale popcorn to life.

Another cool station demonstrated dry ice. When most people think of ice, they imagine a solid chunk of frozen water. But dry ice is “dry” because it doesn’t melt into a liquid. Instead, it goes straight from a solid to the gaseous state. It is made of CO2 (carbon dioxide), just like the air that we exhale.

In one demonstration, students watched bubbles of carbon dioxide fill with what looked like smoke.

A hose was placed into a container of dry ice and the other end was dipped into a container with a mixture of soap, water and corn syrup. The pressure inside the dry ice container released and created smoky bubbles out the end of the hose.

At the same station, no one could get enough of the homemade root beer. Students learned that color is added to most foods, including soda pop. The homemade root beer had no color. Several students guessed that it was lemon-lime. Dry ice was added to cool the soda and give it a classic fizz. When they drank some, they found it was root beer.

A hot topic the next day around Madison Middle School was the money that wouldn’t burn.

To demonstrate how quickly alcohol evaporates and burns, compared to the energy it takes for water to evaporate, a $100 bill was dipped in a solution of alcohol and water. It was then held over an open flame.

The flames were stout and bright blue but only lasted a few seconds. The fire burned out when the alcohol was consumed, but the water protected the bill. After the fire extinguished itself, the students were able to feel that the bill was still cold from the water.

STEM Club is comprised of MPCC students and staff dedicated to promoting and supporting education in science, technology, engineering and math.

More information about the club and its activities is available through STEM Club Advisor Jared Daily at dailyj@mpcc.edu or at (308) 221 – 6434.


Heather Johnson of North Platte Community College contributed to this report.