Tanzanian Horror | AIChE

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Tanzanian Horror

“Beyond the realms of what we see, into the regions or the unexplored only by our imaginations” - Albert Einstein

The relentless curiosity that drives us to investigate the unknown, is one of the fundamental characteristics of humankind. Right from the Bermuda triangle to the black hole, the world is filled with mysteries.

Have you ever heard of Medusa? Medusa was a snake haired Greek monster who used to turn people into stone!! She may just be a myth but there is in fact a lake so deadly that it actually turns organisms into stone- “The infamous Lake Natron”.

The extreme waters of Lake Natron are as deadly as they are beautiful. It is a highly alkaline red colored lake with excess sodium carbonate deposited due to an active volcano , OL Doinyo Lengai and has a pH of 10.5.  Just like the Dead Sea, lake Natron situated in Tanzania, Africa does not run off into the oceans and the rivers. Instead, its water evaporates, causing sedimentation of excessive amounts of salt, making it highly corrosive.

The fascinating thing is that humans and most animals won’t be able to survive here because of the high temperature and high pH of the lake. But it’s not the same for Flamingos, Tilapia fishes, haloarchaea, and a few other birds!

So what superpowers do Flamingos possess that they can easily thrive near this deadly lake? In addition to having tough skin on their legs (which helps to prevent burns from the caustic water), Flamingos also have special salt glands in their heads that filter out the excess minerals through their nasal cavity and pass clean water to the rest of their body.

This module, backed with a real-world application, aims to evoke curiosity about pH in children and make them understand the concept in an interesting manner. It also inspires them to read more about the unexplored wonders of the world.

The conceptual and experimental part of the module will be explained in the form of a story, with articulate brevity, to keep the students engrossed. Concepts like evaporation and sedimentation will also be touched upon in this module.

The experiment is designed in such a manner that it is easily comprehensible and can be performed at home with safe and readily available ingredients. It inspires the students to try out more such thought-provoking experiments which will help them understand science in a practical hands-on manner. The proposed age group for this module would be students from classes 3 to 5.

Module details
TopicsPhysical Chemistry, Thermal/Kinetic Energy and Phase Transitions
Best-suited audienceArray
Approx. time requirement15 minutes
AIChE community affiliationVellore Institute of Technology, Vellore AIChE Student Chapter, Trisha Daftari Urva Dave Manali Mahendra Barve
Recommended audience size20-25