To help students explore and understand the chemistry behind cooking by engaging them in hands-on activities using common ingredients.
This lesson uses the book called Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science, written by Andrew Schloss. This book is one of the finalists of the 2017 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books. SB&F, Science Books and Films, is a project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science offers more than 40 experiments for kids and families that involve some tasty ingredients! The recipes are mostly edible and range from baking brownies to creating bouncy eggs using items they would find in the kitchen. Not only do the experiments end with a treat or cool result, but the students also learn about the science behind the food. Many of these recipes do require a kitchen and the help of an adult. Each recipe comes with a list of materials, a wow factor, whether it’s edible, level of complication, amount of time, and the cost and accessibility of ingredients. The book is divided into six chapters each with a different theme:
- Chapter 1: Wiggly, Jiggly Experiments
- Chapter 2: Sweet Crystal Experiments
- Chapter 3: Cookies, Cakes, and Other Baked Experiments
- Chapter 4: Fruitastic, Vegedacious Experiments
- Chapter 5: Eggcellent Eggsperiments
- Chapter 6: Sodalicious Experiments
This three-day lesson highlights three experiments that can be done in a classroom. The students should treat these recipes as scientific experiments and learn how to read and follow step-by-step instructions, set up an experimental design, and record observations and results.
The two non-edible experiments, Polka-Dot Celery and the Glowy, Bouncy Eggs, are set up on Day 1 since these take three days to observe the results. Either one of these experiments can be selected to do as a class or the class can be divided in half to do both experiments. The Polka-Dot Celery (p. 112) experiment highlights the vascular system of a plant and students observe this phenomenon over a few days as colored dye is suctioned up through the stem of the plant. Preparatory lab questions have students draw out an experimental design to test the suction between different colored food dyes and answer questions before setting up the experiment. Students are prompted to explain in their own words how this is happening and learn how to use observations and data to make conclusions. The Glowy, Bouncy Eggs (p. 129) experiment introduces students to the properties of eggs and explores how the manipulation of the protein content results in a rubber-like texture that allows the egg to bounce! Preparatory lab questions also stimulate students to draw out an experimental design to test the egg in different acidic solutions and think through some questions before setting up the lab. Since both experiments take up to three days to view the final results, students learn to make detailed observations each day and use these observations and data collected to make conclusions.
The third experiment, Five-Minute Ice Cream (p. 49), can be done on Day 2 and results in an edible treat as the students learn about the science behind making ice cream and the changes in the state of matter. Students are prompted to think through hypothetical questions in which a step or ingredient is left out and how this would affect their results.
This lesson plan is designed to introduce students to scientific inquiry and learn how experimentation is used to create observations and answer questions. In addition, students learn how the manipulation of ingredients by freezing them changes the properties of those ingredients. Further, they learn that scientific investigation is not restricted to a classroom or laboratory and can be carried out in their own home.
One misconception students may have when conducting experiments is wanting to know if they got the correct result. It's important to stress that there are no right or wrong answers in science and that observations and results are collected to support conclusions and they need to trust what they observe. You can also stress that the “correctness” and dependability of their results depends on their plan and accuracy when prepping for and conducting their experiment. As in any experiment, there is room for error and it is important for the students to learn how and where this error can occur and how to improve it for next time.
Another thing to note is that even though the egg becomes rubbery during the Glowy, Bouncy Eggs experiment, it is still a raw egg on the inside and can easily pop. Therefore, remind students not to treat it like a bouncy ball because it will break!
Please note that this lesson is most appropriate for the 5th grade level and students should have some knowledge of plant structure such as the vascular system. In addition, students should be familiar with some basic chemistry terms such as protein, pH, acid, base, carbon dioxide, and state of matter. The teacher sheets help to explain the chemistry behind these experiments and depending on the students’ knowledge, you will need to review these concepts with students.
Ideas in this lesson are also related to concepts found in these Common Core State Standards:
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.
Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
Since these experiments involve food items, please make sure you are aware of any food allergies among your students and prepare accordingly. The amount of materials given for the Polka-Dot Celery and Glowy, Bouncy Eggs experiments may change depending on the number of conditions you choose to do as a class. Also, note that the materials listed for the Five-Minute Ice Cream are enough for one large ice cream which can feed two students and will need to be adjusted for the class size. Any non-dairy alternatives such as almond, coconut, or soy milk can be substituted for this experiment in case of food allergies.
These experiments are to be set up with scientific inquiry in mind and the students should be prompted to read the book material, come up with a developed experimental design to include some conditions that are not present in the book, conduct the experiment, and collect both qualitative and quantitative results. Emphasize to the students that any experiment takes a well-thought-out plan and preparation. Before students start the experiment, they should draw out an experimental plan, make sure there is consistency between conditions, and know how they are going to measure their results and what type of observations they will make.
For the Polka-Dot Celery experiment, decide ahead of time how you want the students to measure their results and plan accordingly. Two quantitative approaches to consider:
- Students can measure the actual volume of the liquid in milliliters (mL) each day of the experiment either using a graduated cylinder or liquid measuring cup. Make sure students start off with the same volume in each condition. Data will be recorded in a table under Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 on the student activity sheet.
- Or students can measure the height of the liquid in each glass. Make sure the students still start off with the same volume in each condition and that the same type of glass is being used. The height of liquid should be measured in centimeters (cm) and will be recorded in a table under Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 on the student activity sheet.
For the Glowy, Bouncy Eggs experiment, the pre-lab questions on their student sheets prompt the students to consider water as a control and other acidic solutions (such as cola and coffee) that the students can place the eggs in and they can brainstorm ways to compare the eggs between conditions.
The Five-Minute Ice Cream experiment is not as involved, but the students are able to make the ice cream and learn more about the process and enjoy a tasty treat! Students also answer pre-lab questions on their student sheets and brainstorm on paper what would happen if a step or ingredient was changed in this experiment. This lab explores more the structure of matter and how the liquid ingredients, when put together and cooled, result in a creamy yet solid substance.
Begin this lesson by reading with your students the introduction to Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science. You can read this introduction aloud to your students or ask different students to read parts of it.
You could ask questions about the introduction as you read along or you can ask questions after you’ve finished reading this section. Ask your students questions like these:
- What experience as a child got the author excited about cooking and baking?
- What kinds of science are involved in making great-tasting food?
- What are the key areas the author uses to rank the experiments?
- (He watched his grandmother make baked custard. He thought it was magic how a bowl that was full of watery milk and eggs could come out solid after being baked in an oven.)
- (The kinds of science include thermal dynamics, the Maillard reaction, acid/base interactions, the behavior of fats, etc.)
- (He uses: Amazing—indicates how cool the experiment is; Edible—indicates whether or not you can eat it; Experiment—indicates the level of difficulty; Time—shows how long it should take; Materials—what you need to do the experiment; Cost—how much money is needed, if any; Safety—this mostly depends on the skill level and responsibility of the students.)
Before moving into the Development, provide students with the Polka-Dot Celery, Glowy, Bouncy Eggs, and Five-Minute Ice Cream student sheets. Also provide them with classroom copies of Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science. If you have enough copies for each student, great! If not, students can share copies of the book.
Explain to students that they’ll do three activities from the book over the course of three class periods. For Day 1, they’ll begin the Polka-Dot Celery and Glowy, Bouncy Eggs experiments and on Day 2, the Five-Minute Ice Cream activity.
This is a three-day lesson plan that involves setting up three different experiments. Day 1 has two different experiments that require three days to view the non-edible results. It is left to your discretion to decide if you would like to divide the class into two groups to do both experiments or to pick just one experiment to do with the whole class. On Day 2, students record observations from the Day 1 experiments and perform the edible Five-Minute Ice Cream experiment. On Day 3, students observe the final results from the Day 1 experiments and share with the rest of the class.
Set up the Polka-Dot Celery and/or Glowy, Bouncy Eggs experiment. Either divide the class into two groups to do both experiments or pick one of these experiments to do with the whole class.
Students should first read the introduction to Chapter 4 (p. 101), the recipe, and the How Did That Happen? section for this experiment. For this experiment, students compare the celery soaking in different colored food dyes (red, yellow, blue, and green) to help them understand how celery, as a stem, transports water and nutrients from the plant’s roots into its leaves, fruit, and flowers.
Then they should answer the pre-lab questions on their Polka-Dot Celery student sheet. You can find answers to the questions on the Polka-Dot Celery teacher sheet.
Taking time to answer these questions first involves students in planning and drawing out the experimental set-up to include other conditions or answering “what if” scenarios before they perform the experiments. This gives students more ownership over the experiment and become more invested in how the results will turn out.
As part of the experimental design, the students plan which colored dyes they want to use (have them do at least yellow, red, blue, and green) and draw jars and celery stalks and label the jars on their sheets. It also is necessary to include a jar with just plain water to compare the dye to. They should also plan what measurements and observations they will make to compare these conditions. As they are working on this, go around the room and make sure that they are actually drawing a picture with the jars and celery and labeling the jars with which food color they would contain.
After checking their experimental design, students should set up the experiment and record their Day 1 observations on the student sheet. They should also measure the height or volume of the liquid in the jars and record under Day 1 in their tables on the activity sheet.
One of the questions the students are asked is how are they going to compare these conditions. See if the students can figure out on their own the importance of being consistent between each condition, such as using the same volume of liquid in each jar and cutting the celery to the same height. They also need to determine how and what they would measure to compare the results. The preparatory lab questions guide them to this point, but nudge them in the right direction if they get off track. You may also want to have extra supplies in case the students want to mix the food coloring to come up with another color. The students should record their observations each day and you can discuss with the class what they should describe and in how much detail. Following the completion of the lab, students answer post-lab questions and can share the results and conclusions of the experiment with the rest of the class.
- Students record their observations on the student sheet for Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. Students learn the importance of making descriptive observations to make comparisons between the conditions. Some characteristics for them to pay attention to is the color of the celery and how it feels (rigid or bendable). Students can also observe how the celery in the food dyes compare to the celery in the plain water.
The goal of this experiment is to get the students to think through a naturally occurring phenomenon and learn how to record detailed observations and data to compare and draw conclusions. By planning the experimental set-up themselves and making predictions on which color food dye will be absorbed the best by the celery, students get a sense of commitment to this experiment and a taste for scientific inquiry. What they find is that it may or may not make a difference between the colored dye, but that is why experimentation is used to explore questions.
Glowy, Bouncy Eggs
For this experiment, students should first read the introduction to Chapter 5 (p. 127), the recipe, and the How Did That Happen? section. They should answer the pre-lab questions on the Glowy, Bouncy Eggs student sheet. (You can find answers to these questions on the Glowy, Bouncy Eggs teacher sheet.)
One of the questions asks them to draw out the experimental setup before they start the experiment. Students should draw jars and eggs on their sheet and label which liquids they will use and how they will compare results and what types of observations they will make. After checking their experimental design, students should set up the experiment and record their Day 1 observations on the student activity sheet.
This experiment is a little trickier to come up with quantitative results, but they can focus on the qualitative results and compare the texture and the appearance of the egg under each condition. The questions help guide them to the idea that it is the acidity of the vinegar that dissolves the egg shell and gives it the rubber-like feel. This should lead them to the question, “What would happen if I put an egg in another acidic liquid?” Students measure or look up the pH of different liquids and make predictions on how the eggs fare under these conditions. Following the completion of the lab, students answer post-lab questions and can share the results of the experiment with the rest of the class.
- Students record what the egg looks like in each condition on Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 on the student sheet. Some observations they can make include the amount of bubbling and appearance of the eggs compared to the water control. They can also gently touch the egg to see how firm it is. The egg also becomes more “glowy” as the shell dissolves and the protein membrane underneath refracts the light. The students can hold up the egg to a light to see how translucent it is each day.
Once again, students can make predictions on which solution would give them the most rubbery egg and plan how they will test this and how to make detailed observations. Considering that the acid is reacting with the calcium carbonate in the egg shell, the more acidic the solution, the faster the shell should dissolve. The students can look up online what the pH of these different solutions are to help make predictions or if you can get a hold of pH paper, they can measure the pH themselves. Since vinegar is more acidic than cola and coffee, the prediction would be that vinegar would produce the rubbery egg the quickest. It will be interesting for the students to be able to set up an experiment to test this out and once again see how experimentation is used to help answer questions.
Students should record their Day 2 observations on the student sheets provided for the Polka-Dot Celery and Glowy, Bouncy Eggs experiments. As a class, set up the Five-Minute Ice Cream experiment.
Students in this group should record their Day 2 observations, noting the color and texture of the celery and any other observations you have discussed as a class. They also should measure the height or volume of the liquid in the jars and record under Day 2 in their tables on the activity sheet. Students can share their observations in their group.
Glowy, Bouncy Eggs
Students in this group should record their Day 2 observations, noting the texture and appearance of the eggs. They can also hold the jars up to the light to see how translucent the egg has become. Students can start to share their observations in their group.
Five-Minute Ice Cream
Students should read the recipe and background information in the book to help answer the pre-lab questions. After your instruction, students can perform the experiment and eat the results as they answer the post-lab questions. This experiment will focus more on learning about the different states of matter and how the water in the cream or non-dairy milk freezes to make ice crystals and the shaking of the bag introduces air, which allows the cream or milk to flow between the ice crystals thus making the consistency of ice cream. The student sheet will help them think through this process. (You can find background information and answers on the Five-Minute Ice Cream teacher sheet.)
Observe the final results and make conclusions for the Day 1 experiments.
Students should record their Day 3 observations and results in their tables and with your help, cut the celery stalks into pieces to observe the dot pattern. Students should then answer their post-lab questions and present their results and conclusions to the rest of the class.
Glowy, Bouncy Eggs
Students should record their Day 3 observations and include what the eggs look and feel like under the different conditions. Note that it may take longer than three days for the eggs to be rubbery enough to bounce, especially in the other acidic liquids. A light can be shown through the egg to make it “glow.” You may also need to rinse the eggs under water to remove the rest of the shell before you do this step. Students have the opportunity to bounce the eggs and it is recommended to take the eggs outside or use in an area with easy clean-up in case they burst. Remind students again that these eggs are still raw on the inside and are not bouncy balls. Students should then answer their post-lab questions and present the results of the experiment to the rest of the class.
Each student sheet has post-lab questions for the students to answer. The questions prompt students to use their observations and data collected to draw conclusions. They should also brainstorm any possible experimental errors that could have occurred and come up with improvements for future experiments. Emphasize to the students that there is no right or wrong answer and let the students be creative.
You can find answers to the questions on the respective teacher sheets.
Hold a Food Science Night at the school in which the students select a recipe to do at home and bring in the result or treat to share. The students can make a poster to include the procedure, the science behind the recipe, and a What If? section in which they can describe what would happen if they left out an ingredient or step in their experiment.
Instead of the students presenting their results at a Food Science Night, they could do this in class and present their experiment to the class on a poster board.
The Science NetLinks Hot and Cold Colors lesson explores the effect of heating and cooling on the dispersal of food coloring in water and helps to extend on the concepts in this lesson.