Mr. Russell’s Classroom: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

It’s time for another science experiment in Mr. Russell’s classroom. J-Stace the Science Ace showed us how a common product used in nail salons and homes can turn a solid piece of Styrofoam into a flimsy fluid.

What You Need

  • 100% Acetone (nail polisher remover)
  • Glass Bowl
  • Pieces of Styrofoam


  1. Pour a bit of acetone into a glass bowl
  2. Place Styrofoam beads, packing peanuts, chunks of foam, or even a Styrofoam cup in the bowl
  3. The Styrofoam will dissolve in the acetone much like sugar dissolves in hot water

Science Behind the Experiment

How Does the Experiment Work?

Styrofoam is made of polystyrene foam. When the polystyrene dissolves in the acetone, the air in the foam is released. This makes it look like you’re dissolving a massive quantity of material into a small volume of liquid.

Since Styrofoam is mostly air, you may be surprised by how much (or, in the end, how little) foam will dissolve in the acetone.

A cup of acetone is enough to dissolve an entire bean bag’s worth of Styrofoam beads.

Science Words of the Day

A simple solution describes two substances that are evenly mixed together. One of them is called the solute and the other is the solvent.



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