Glass bending in CREST Club

In CREST Club (a STEM enrichment programme for young people aged 5-19 years old), Minjae (Year 10) has recently been learning how to bend and cut glass tubing.

His project is about making and testing biofuels and he is currently trying to harness the chemical energy stored in potatoes and to transfer that energy to a more usable form of fuel. Essentially he has been using amylase, an enzyme, to convert the starch in potatoes to glucose. He is also using yeast, a fungus, to ferment the sugar forming ethanol (a very useful fuel) and carbon dioxide.

The yeast only makes ethanol if you can keep the respiration of the yeast anaerobic. Minjae needed a piece of glassware to allow the carbon dioxide gas out of his reaction flask, but not let any air in, so he decided to make it.

The glass bending technique is to use a Bunsen burner flame and rotate the glass tube in the flame, simultaneously moving the glass back and forth over a short section. When the glass develops the feel of a cooked noodle, you remove it from the flame and bend. Other CREST Club members, like Ollie have also enjoyed learning how to bend glass.

Minjae explained “I heard about glass bending when I was at school in Korea but it was mainly through reading books.  When I found out that I could have a go at a practical experiment in CREST club, I was excited to have this opportunity.   Learning from just books isn’t nearly as useful as learning through practicals.”  Referring to CREST Club, he added that he thinks “People need the opportunity to express their passion and vision and this can be done by joining CREST.”

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