When it comes to capturing the attention of middle school students, incorporating food can be a game-changer. One thing most middle schoolers have in common is a big appetite and a love of food. Adding an edible element to scientific explorations can be a great way to pique student interest and foster an engaging learning environment. Hands-on food experiments can make science content relatable and fun for middle schoolers.
Why Use Food Experiments?
Food labs are always a fan favorite in my middle school science classroom. Nothing gets students hyped to learn about a “boring” topic quite like bringing food into the equation. These fun edible science experiments turn up engagement in a big way.
The best part about these food experiments is that students are highly interested, engaged, and having fun. This means better retention of content and challenging their knowledge in a new way. Of course, students love it because they get to take a bite out of the final product!
Let’s look at some of my favorite edible science experiments.
Ice Cream Lab
This Ice Cream Lab is perfect for reviewing changes in states of matter and thermal energy. For this lab, students will be making ice cream in a bag. Not only is this a fun food experiment (and doubles as an arm workout!), but this lab also covers a ton of standards at once.
Students will shake the bags and watch the mixture thicken into ice cream as it changes from a liquid to a solid. During the lab, they will discuss changes in thermal energy, particle motion, and why it all occurs. And, of course, it wouldn’t be an edible experiment without getting to taste the final result. I like to bring a few ice cream toppings for an added dose of excitement.
The S’Mores Lab is great for reviewing thermal energy and how it transfers. With this s’mores experiment, students will try to melt a marshmallow using all three methods.
They use a hot plate for conduction, a steam kettle for convection, and a heat lab for radiation. The students roast their marshmallows at each station and then add them to their graham crackers with chocolate.
As students create their delicious treats, they will discuss which method was most effective, how each was demonstrated, and illustrate particle motion.
Plate Tectonics Lab
Plate Tectonics is another topic that makes for a fun edible science experiment. During the Plate Tectonics Lab, students will use food to represent the different parts of the Earth.
For example, graham crackers represent continental crust, Fruit Roll-Ups symbolize oceanic crust, and frosting is used for the asthenosphere. Then, students will manipulate these snacks in different ways to demonstrate the plate boundaries (convergent, divergent, and transform).
Throughout the lab, students discuss what they noticed as they manipulated the food and even review some key vocabulary.
Oreo Moon Phases
The Lunar Phases Oreo Moon Phases is a simple but fun food lab. Each student will get four Oreo cookies. They open up the cookie and add or remove parts of the frosting to represent each of the phases of the moon.
With this activity, you can incorporate information on moon movement, gravity, and eclipses. Try out this Oreo Moon Phases lab for free!
I hope these labs inspire you to get creative and add some edible fun to your middle school science experiments! Your students will have a blast with food experiments, and you’ll enjoy the built-in engagement.