Food for Everyone!

Online Lesson Plan

lrKathyFood, Food, and More Food from Plants!

Food is essential to life. Studying food can teach students valuable lessons in science. This lesson is divided into five parts – Part I, Ice Cream. Part II, Bread. Part III, Pancakes. Part IV, Kool-Aid. Part V, Cake.

Lesson Plan by Kathy Jacobitz, science education consultant, Pawnee City, Nebraska.



Suggested grade level – 5th-8th. The following are seven overall objectives. Additional objectives will be added as students progress through the various investigations.Standards

  1. Students will follow and use the scientific process of investigation. [Click here for a science investigation form.]
  2. Students will explore the science involved in making ice cream.
  3. Students will explore the single celled organism through experimentation. Making bread from a recipe not from a mix.
  4. Students will gain knowledge of getting all the materials needed to prepare food during the 1930s.
  5. Student will vary the ingredients to develop the best pancakes.
  6. Students will work with concentrations using Kool-Aid which was developed by Edwin Perkins from Hastings, Nebraska.
  7. Students will explore kitchen chemistry by baking a cake.


lrScience0301Farming is the most important occupation in the world. People cannot live without food and nearly all our food we eat comes from crops and livestock raised on farms. However, farming is no longer the chief way of life in this country due in part to the Depression, drought, scientific advances and labor saving machinery. Still, during the 1930s, most farms raised their own groceries right there at home. In these five units we explore the processes and problems involved in making ice cream, the impact of yeast in making bread, the chemistry of making pancakes, the concentrations of a mixture of Kool-Aid and the chemistry of baking a cake.


Part I:

  1. Wessels Living History Farm page REA Changes Rural Homes
  2. Harvesting Ice
  3. What Was It Before It Was Ice Cream? by Colleen Reece.
  4. Keeping Warm, Keeping Cool, by Joan Elma Kahn.

Part II:

  1. Wessels Living History Farm page Milling Wheat into Flour
  2. The Story Of Chicken Little, by Jan Ormerod.
  3. Where Food Comes From, by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent.

Part III and Part V:

  1. Kitchen Chemistry, by Robert Gardner.
  2. “Magic School Bus: Baked in a Cake.”

Part IV:

  1. Working With Water, by Neil Ardley.
  2. Water by Bill Gunston.


The food unit is divided into five parts:


Part I: Ice Cream, Ice Cream We All Scream for Ice Cream

Before starting part one of the food study have students complete a KWL – What We Know / What We Want to Know / What we Learned – in their journal about ice cream. Record the student responses on a class KWL sheet.

Ice cream is enjoyed by most individuals in the United States following only cookies as a second favorite dessert. Nieken in 1997 conducted a survey of supermarkets sales and discovered shoppers divided their dollars for sweets in the following manner. (Students could search for new data and compare the results.)

Dessert Choices/Money
Dessert Choice: Money Spent:
Cookies $3.6 billion
Ice Cream $2.3 billion
Frozen Novelties $1.4 billion
Frozen Yogurt $631 million
Doughnuts $431 million
Ice Milk/Sherbet $328 million
Pie $178 million
Cheese Cake $12 million
Total $8.88 billion


What does this chart mean? Journal response needed to measure the students’ ability to interpret data. Share ideas in class discussion. Allow students to add any new information to their journal. If you want students to see what they learned from each other have them record additional information in a different colored marker.

Suggested Ideas and Questions:


  1. How does one calculate the $8.88 billion from the data on the chart? This is a good place to explore big numbers.
  1. Have students graph the data to explore data in another format.
  2. Survey the class to find out what their favorite desserts are. Graph the results and explain the graph in the journal. You could expand the survey to the school and community.
  3. Write a story about when they last had their favorite desert.


Do you like ice cream? What is your favorite kind? Respond in the journal before discussion this in class. Record the class responses to their favorite kind of ice cream. Calculate into percentages and make a bar graph based on the data. Next, make a pie graph from the same data. (The students could expand this to the school and/or community.)

The 15 most popular ice cream flavors reported by the International Ice Cream Association are:





Vanilla 29.0%
Chocolate 8.9%
Butter Pecan 5.3%
Strawberry 5.3%
Neapolitan 4.2%
Chocolate Chip 3.9%
French Vanilla 3.8%
Cookies and Cream 3.6%
Vanilla Fudge Ripple 2.6%
Praline Pecan 1.7%
Cherry 1.6%
Chocolate Almond 1.6%
Coffee 1.6%
Rocky Road 1.5%
Chocolate Marshmallow 1.3%
All Other Flavors 23.7%

Graph this data in a pie and bar graph. Write an explanation of the data. How many people were tested? Compare and contrast the data to the class results.

Supermarket Sales Divided by Flavor Category:
Fruit Flavors
Nut Flavors
Candy Mix In Flavor
Cake and Cookie Flavors

Compare and contrast the information presented above with the 15 most popular ice cream flavors data. Graph this information into a pie and bar graph. This should inspire the students to ask a number of questions about comparing data. (Both sets of data came from a 1994 source.) Students may write the International Ice Cream Association about any unanswered questions. It is their data to defend. How many people were asked about their favorite flavor? I know no one asked me!

Give each student a graph and/or have them bring in several graphs found in a newspaper or magazine. Have the students explain the graphic data. This activity provides you with a way to assess their understanding of graphic data. Students could display this information in the class and pass them around for other students to observe. Students could add information or questions on a sheet on the back of the mounted graph and later cut and paste it for inclusion in the journal.

Ice Cream Consumption Questions and Information:

All information presented is from the International Ice Cream Association.

    1. How many quarts of ice cream do you think you eat in a year? How much do you think each American consumes in a year? The data indicates each American will consume an average of 23.2 quarts of ice cream a year. Students need to respond in the journal about what this data really means. How would you go about calculating this average number of quarts of ice cream eaten in a year? How is most ice cream sold? (Pints, quarts, gallons.) What size of container do the students parents buy their ice cream in?
    2. Based on sales of ice cream which month do you think was selected to be National Ice Cream month? Journal response. More ice cream is consumed during July and August. July was selected to be National Ice Cream month. When do you eat the most ice cream?
    3. Who eats the most ice cream? Surprisingly the most ice cream per person is consumed not only by children ages two through 12 but adults ages 45 plus ranked extremely high. Journal response to data.
    4. What day of the week is the most ice cream sold? (Sunday)
    5. Explain the following statements in the journal. Record any questions.

“The North Central States have the highest per capita consumption of ice cream at 41.7 quarts per year.”
“The top three cities in America purchasing the most ice cream on a per capita basis are: Portland, Oregon; St. Louis, Missouri; and Seattle, Washington.”
Discuss the data and explain the meaning of per capita.
What are the North Central States? Are the top ice cream consuming cities found in these states?

  1. The top five states that produce the most ice cream in 1994 were:
    1. California
    2. Indiana
    3. Ohio
    4. Illinois
    5. Michigan

    Are these still the top five ice cream making states? What were the top five ice cream producing states during the 1930s?

  2. Miscellaneous Facts:
    1. The favorite topping for ice cream is chocolate syrup.
    2. The biggest ice cream sundae ever made was 12 feet high and made with 4,667 gallons of ice cream and 7,000 pounds of topping in Anaheim, California, in 1985. How many pints and quarts of ice cream would this be? Does the record still stand today? What would it cost to pay for the sundae today? Would this sundae have been made during the 1930s?
    3. Vanilla ice cream is made from the vanilla bean. Where are vanilla beans grown? What happens to the vanilla bean before it is used to make ice cream? How did farmers get vanilla flavoring during the 1930s? Locate on a map where the vanilla beans are grown? Why?
    4. Ice Cream is an $11 billion retail industry. What does the term retail mean? What was the retail value during the 1930s and today?
    5. Ice cream novelties such as ice cream on sticks and ice cream bars were introduced in 1920s. Do you think Nebraska farmers had these at home during the 1930s? Defend your response and leave room to revisit this question?

Further Research:

  1. How is sugar free ice cream made?
  2. How and why was ice cream first made?
  3. What is the history of ice cream in the United States?
  4. Who, how, and when was the ice cream cone developed?
  5. How was the ice cream cone developed?
  6. Who invented the hand cranked ice cream churn?
  7. The patent for the ice cream hand cranked churn was sold for $200. What is a patent?
  8. What ice cream flavors are at your local store?
  9. Write a story about developing a new ice cream flavor.
  10. Why make lactose free ice cream? Compare and contrast the labels of vanilla with a lactose free ice cream.
  11. Explore the labels of ice cream and what the information really means. Most cartons of ice cream have an address or phone number where students could get additional information about ice cream.
  12. What is the average number of licks it takes to finish a single scoop ice cream cone? Will every ones average be the same? What does average really mean? The data says 50 licks. Have fun calculating your own, class, and family averages.
  13. What does it mean if 98% of all households purchase ice cream? (United States, Nebraska, your class or the world)
  14. What was an ice cream label like during the 1930s?
  15. Does no sugar added mean the ice cream has no sugar in it?
  16. Does nonfat mean no fat in the ice cream?
  17. What does the term light mean for a type of ice cream?
  18. What does low fat mean on an ice cream label?
  19. What is a serving size for ice cream containers? Are they the same for all brands of ice cream?
  20. What does the bar code on a container of ice cream mean?

Research and locate the song, “I Scream, You Scream For Ice Cream”, and enjoy the music your class can make together.

The Science of Making Ice Cream

Perform a KWL about making ice cream, share the responses, and record a class KWL.

Party Time!

Imagine you’re planning a birthday celebration for your Dad’s birthday this weekend. You went to get great-grandmother’s recipe and discovered the paper had been wet and you cannot read all of the ingredients. Together we must try to figure out the recipe. You remember it had whole milk, sugar and vanilla. Sometimes we put in cream if available. What should we do?

The farm families during the 1930s used milk from their own cows. How does that milk differ from the milk we purchase at a store today? Students should record their ideas in the journal about how they will solve the ice cream recipe problem. Use the scientific investigation process form for this investigation. Click here for a student copy of the form. Discuss as a class how best to solve the problem of the recipe.

This investigation of making ice cream may be used to teach or assess the students’ knowledge of dealing with variables. All ingredients are variables and can be varied. Only allow students to change one variable at a time and they should record all data. Once they discover the correct recipe they will want to keep it for the future. Make only small amounts in zip lock bags to save on money.

Material suggestions per student group:

1. Whole milk.

2. Vanilla.
3. Crushed or party ice.
4. Sugar.
5. Rock salt.
6. Sandwich size zip lock bags.
7. Gallon size zip lock bags.
8. Thermometer (needs to go to -10 degrees C).
9. Newspapers.
10. Duck tape.
11. Spoons.
12. Ice cream toppings.

Remind students throughout this investigation they are living on a Nebraska farm during the 1930s and have no electricity on their farm.


Perform a student and class KWL on ice and its properties.

Ice is essential when making ice cream because the mixture must be cooled down to change from a liquid to a solid. The majority of Nebraska farms in the 1930s had what they called an icebox. The icebox gave the family a way to keep things cool and to slow the process of food spoilage, but it was not as cold as an electric refrigerator. Ice had to be harvested during the winter from rivers and lakes and stored for later use. How was the ice stored once it was harvested?

In the 1930s, an iceman would deliver ice to your home or business. The ice blocks delivered were so heavy a grown man could hardly lift them into an icebox. All iceboxes had a drain from the ice compartment so water could be collected and removed later. Many a floor was mopped because someone forgot to empty the collected water. In order for ice to cool the iceboxes it needed to melt, going from a solid to a liquid state. (A change in the state of matter.)

Imagine your father is going to town on Monday and your party will be on Thursday. Your mother wants to make ice cream for the party. You must select a material that will slow the melting process so there will be enough ice left to make ice cream. Use only materials available during the 1930s.

Have the students design a box or container that will slow or prevent the change of state of three or four ice cubes. When you do make the ice cream bring in a block of ice for the students to use thus making it more like the 1930s. Goggles and a hammer may be needed for the students to get their ice.


How can the students slow the melting process so there will be enough ice left in four days to make ice cream?

Follow the scientific investigation process to its conclusion.

Perform a KWL at the conclusion of each investigation.


  1. What if you use insulation materials available today, how would it compare to the 1930s?
  2. Vary the season of the birthday party to examine environmental concerns.
  3. Explore the changes of states of matter for water, ice to water to gas. The concept that as water freezes it expands and weighs less and can float. Use pop ice which come in plastic bags. Measure the level of the liquid in the bag. Using a permanent marker draw a line were the water level is located. Predict what will happen as you freeze the pop ice. Remove the pop ice from the freezer and observe/record the results while enjoying a pop ice. Why? (Do not use pop ice with a diabetic student.) Will it float? Material in the pop ice are water, sugar, flavoring, and coloring dyes.
  4. Measure the amount of water you place in an ice cube tray. Place it in the freezer. Remove and allow it to melt do you get the same amount back?
  5. You fill a glass 3/4 full of water and add ice until the glass is full. Predict what will happen if you allow the glass to sit undisturbed until all the ice melts. Observe/record/journal about the results. Discuss the results in class.
  6. Sketch an iceman delivering ice in the 1930s.
  7. Write a story or poem about the iceman.
  8. Some iceboxes had the ice chambers on the side while others had the chamber on the top. Why those locations? Why not have an ice chamber on the bottom of an icebox?
  9. Fill up a glass of water to the top. How many drops of water can you add with an eyedropper? Why?
  10. If you purchased ice during the 1930s what did it cost? What would the same amount of ice cost today?

Simple Plan For Making Ice Cream In A Bag!

Materials Per Student:

1 Cup whole milk

1/4 tsp vanilla
4 TBSP Sugar
3-4 Cups crushed ice (party ice works too.)
1 Gallon size zip lock bag
1 Sandwich size zip lock bag
2 Full sheets of newspaper
Duct tape
1/4 cup rock salt
1 Plastic spoon
Thermometer that reads to -10 degrees C (make sure it is clean)
Optional: Toppings for the ice cream


  1. In the small zip lock bag mix together the milk, sugar, and vanilla. Force out excess air from the bag and zip the bag closed. It is important it is sealed or your students will be cleaning up a mess and not have as much ice cream to eat.
  2. In the large zip lock bag add 3-4 cups of crushed ice. Chipped ice from the block of ice goes here if you want to use the 1930s theme. Take the temperature of the ice alone using the thermometer. Record the temperature in the journal and ask students to place their results on the board. The class data may be used to calculate the average for the test. Add 1/4 cup of rock salt to the ice. Predict what will happen to the temperature at the end of the investigation. Record in the journal.
  3. Place the smaller bag into the larger bag amongst the ice and salt. Force out the excess air and zip the bag closed.
  4. Fold the bag over itself and place in the middle of two sheets of newspaper. Wrap the bag in the newspaper and tape it with duct tape to hold it in place.
  5. Shaking it for 5-10 minutes should allow the mixture to become solid. Have a few straws available for those students who have a milk shake. If available, you could play the song, “Shake it up baby.”
  6. Unwrap the bags and carefully remove the inside bag from the larger bag. If the rock salt gets into the bag it does not taste at all good and the rock salt may be dirty.
  7. Take the temperature of the rock salt and water mixture. Record the data in the journal and on the class data chart.Calculate an average. Why do you think you got these results? Eat the ice cream while you think about the data.Through various experiments the temperature should read -5 to -10 degrees C at the close of the experiment.
  8. Discuss the data and look for variables which were not controlled such as how much shaking occurred and at what rate. Some students may have shook vigorously all the time while others just were not into the shaking part of the test. How could this and any other variable be controlled for future tests? Was the shaking needed at all? What did it do for the results?
  9. Take the recipe and increase it to work in a small and large empty coffee can.
  10. Make a taste test comparison between homemade ice cream and what you can buy in a store. Follow all taste rules for your school.
  11. Which costs more to make, homemade ice cream or ice cream you buy in a store?

Learning Advice:

The making of ice cream can be messy, so be prepared for possible cleaning up situations.


Students should be able to explain the changes in the states of matter. Hopefully, they will come up with even more questions.

How does the rock salt work?

Rock salt forces the ice mix to melt. The “brine solution” or liquid formed absorbs heat from the mix and gradually lowers the temperature of the mix until it starts to freeze. If no salt was added to the ice, the ice and melted water would reach an equilibrium at 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C. The ice cream mix, however, does not begin to freeze until its temperature falls below 27 degrees F. (? degrees C) Therefore, in order to freeze the ice cream, we need to add salt to have a concentration at a ratio of about five cups of ice to one cup of rock salt. The brine solution will result in a eight to 12 degree F solution. (? Degrees C) This will allow rapid cooling and freezing that is needed to make smooth ice cream.

The heat needed to melt the ice comes from the ice cream mix. The ice is absorbing a lot of heat energy. The salt helps make the ice melt faster and drops the temperature to that of freezing salt water. (Zero degrees on the F thermometer equals -18 degrees on the C scale.)

Rock salt is available at most hardware stores and supermarkets. You may substitute table salt or Kosher salt however they are more expensive.

Discussions/Journal Responses/Investigations:

  1. Perform the post KWL in the journal, produce a class KWL. Remember you can always add on to KWL new things you learn about while studying science.
  2. Review the process about the temperature changes that occurred. Why?
  3. Sketch the flow of energy in the ice cream investigation that used the zip lock bag.
  4. Explain why salt is applied to sidewalks and highways during the winter months.

The study of ice cream can lead to many careers in physical and organic chemistry, microbiology, and chemical engineering to name a few. Today we even find seaweed in ice cream. Through a study of ice cream you can teach heat transfer, freezing point depression, emulsions or pasteurization.

Additional Investigations:

  1. How is ice cream made today?
  2. How are flavors added to ice cream?
  3. What is the difference between ice cream and ice milk?
  4. Explain ice cream labels from three different manufacturers.
  5. Where does ice cream belong on the food pyramid? Why?
  6. What is overrun? Did you have any in the ice cream investigation? Explain.
  7. How are refrigerators and iceboxes alike and different?
  8. Write a story about making ice cream at your birthday party?
  9. Electricity changed our lives in many ways. How did it impact our homes, schools, businesses, grocery stores and hospitals?
  10. How was salt obtained in the 1930s?
  11. Sketch the tools and special clothing the iceman needed to do his job.
  12. How does an ice pack work?
  13. How do you use ice in your life?
  14. If you have some ice tea in a glass, add ice and sugar, what will happen to the temperature of the tea? What happens to the temperature without the sugar being added? Why?
  15. Design a dance that shows and explains what happens as rock salt is added to an icy road.
  16. Explain why ice cream sold at a restaurant will usually be warmer than your ice cream from your freezer.
  17. Why and how can you get a headache from eating ice cream?
  18. Give a report on the overall history of ice cream. Include the following individuals in the report:
    Charles I of England
    Nero, a Roman Emperor
    Marco Polo
    Phillip Lenze
    Dolly Madison
    Jacob Fussell
    Govenor Bladen of Maryland (1700)
    Italo Marchiony
    Robert M. Green
    Nancy Johnson
  19. Write a play about making ice cream in the 1930s.
  20. Construct signs you would find in an ice cream parlor in the 1930s. Make sure the prices and flavors are correct for this period.
  21. Use the terms endothermic and exothermic along with a sketch to explain energy flow involved in making ice cream in a bag.
  22. Make a map of the world showing the top ten ice cream consuming countries.
  23. What does each component listed below add to the final ice cream product? fat; milk solids; air; water; and sugar.
  24. What is involved in the production of vanilla?
  25. Why do we have lactose free ice cream? How is it made?
  26. Explain how emulsifiers are used in ice cream. The original emulsifier for ice cream was egg yolks.
  27. Explain how stabilizers work in ice cream.
  28. Why do ice cream producers age the mix?
  29. Collect the students favorite recipe and make a book of them for the class to keep.
  30. Which ice cream freezer will make the ice cream the fastest, hand cranked or electric? Investigation.

Clean the salt off all the metal parts of a freezer to prevent corrosion.


Part II: Making Bread


Perform a student and class KWL Chart on bread and bread making.

Bread is often called the staff of life. It is widely eaten food, which provides energy and protein.

Bread maybe divided into three main types: yeast bread; quick bread; and flat bread.

Yeast Bread

1. Kouloura
2. Grissini
3. Kugelhupf
4. French Bread
5. Rye Bread
6. White Bread
7. Rolls

Quick Breads

1. Corn Bread
2. Biscuits
3. Muffins

Flat Breads

1. Mutzah
2. Tortilla
3. Crisp Bread
4. Chapatty

Perform a KWL on yeast in the journal then do a class KWL.

The largest type of bread made in the United States is yeast bread. Yeast is a single celled organism. It belongs to the fungi group and reproduces by fusion (splitting apart) or by budding (forming a new cell called a bud). There are about 600 species of yeast but only a few are used in the food industry. Yeast are fungi thus they lack chlorophyll so they have to obtain their food. The yeast cells produce an enzyme that breaks down their food. Yeast reproduces rapidly if given the right environmental conditions. The main investigation will be to see in what environment yeast grow the best, the fastest, and produce the most carbon dioxide.

You may make homemade bread following this investigation or students could make some at home. Either way they should journal about the adventure of bread making, which is an excellent assessment.

A bakers yeast package should give directions for mixing up the yeast and additional information. In bread making, bakers yeast is used as a leaven causing the bread dough to rise. Bread dough is made by mixing flour, water or milk, salt, and yeast. Sometimes sugar is added to the bread dough. Yeast breaks down the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. The alcohol evaporates during baking and the yeast is destroyed.


Follow the directions on the package of yeast for mixing the yeast. Mix water, yeast, and sugar and place it into a flask, small soda bottle, or a large test tube. Place a balloon over the mouth of your container. Observe and record the results. What happened? Why?

Yeast Investigation:

Use the student science investigation form.


How will the temperature of the water impact yeast growth and carbon dioxide gas formation?




Materials Per Group:

3 test tubes – plastic test tubes are fine

3 balloons that fit over the mouth of the test tubes
Measuring device for tsp. and ml
Test tube holder – a cup can work


1. Place same amount of water into each test tube at three different temperatures. A cup of ice will keep one test tube cool. Place the test tube you want at the coldest temperature in the cup of ice.

2. Add 1/8 tsp. sugar to each test tube and stir.
3. Add 1/4 tsp. yeast to each test tube, do not stir. (Stirring could be a different experiment.)
4. Place balloons on the test tubes.
5. Let the test tubes stand undisturbed, observe and record results.

Observations/Data Collection:


New Questions:

Add any new information to the KWL for the journal and the class KWL Chart.

Use the scientific process to investigate the following questions/problems listed below.

  1. How much yeast? If a little yeast is great what would more yeast do? Do not stir the yeast in this investigation. I suggest your students use the temperature from the first experiment that worked the best to produce carbon dioxide gas.
  2. What will happen if we use different kinds of yeast? No stirring of the yeast.
  3. How much sugar? Will more or less sugar cause the yeast to produce more carbon dioxide?
  4. What kind of liquid works best to increase carbon dioxide production? Do not stir or add sugar for this test. Liquids could include: orange juice, grape juice, apple juice, tomato juice, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, or different sodas (regular vs. sugar free).
  5. Honey? Will honey work as a substitute for sugar? No stirring of the yeast.
  6. Stir the yeast and see if it makes a difference in the production of carbon dioxide?

Learning Advice

Be ready for possible spills.

Assessment Activity

Click on the following to view the suggestions listed below:

  1. KWL Chart pre and post.
  2. Journal Assessment Rubric.
  3. Rubric for Scientific Research.
  4. Assessment Checklist for the Scientific Research.
  5. Venn Diagram.
  6. Rubric for the Research Paper.
  7. Rubric for Group Work.

Assessment Investigation: Pop Your Lid!

Use empty film canisters with lids. Allow students to propose the best yeast environmental conditions that will cause the production of carbon dioxide and blow the lid off the film canisters. You may obtain film canisters from places that develop film.

Select a criteria for the contest like:

1. Pop the first lid wins.
2. Pop the last lid to win, but it must pop.
3. Pop the lid the farthest to win.

Students must record all information in the investigation process and explain the results. Through the journal responses you will be able to assess their knowledge of yeast.


Journal Response: If you were going to continue the study of yeast, what questions would you want to investigate? Perform a post KWL for the journal and the class.

Additional Investigations:

  1. How is yeast made?
  2. Explain the fermentation process.
  3. What is a leaven agent? How is bakers yeast used as a leaven agent?
  4. Explain why yeast is used in the baking of bread?
  5. What is the food value in white bread vs. wheat bread?
  6. Explain in detail how the three main types of bread are alike and different. (Venn Diagram)
  7. How did the bakers in the 1930s get the materials needed to make bread?
  8. Compare and contrast the labels of three different breads.
  9. Write a story about the history of bread.
  10. Why was bread enriched with vitamin B during the 1930s?
  11. Why was bread enriched with iron during the 1930s?
  12. Place the food values listed below into a pie chart.
    Water 35.6%
    Carbohydrates 50.6%
    Protein 8.7%
    Fat 3.1%
    Ash 2.0%
    Explain the graph you make from this data. Is this white or wheat bread?
  13. What vitamins are found in wheat bread vs. white bread? (Venn Diagram)
  14. Compare and contrast enriched vs. non enriched bread. (Venn Diagram)
  15. Make some homemade bread. Share your recipe. Journal about the process involved in making the bread.
  16. How is flour made?
  17. Compare and contrast bread flour, cake flour and enriched flour. (Venn Diagram)
  18. Explain the milling process of wheat flour. Sketches welcome.
  19. What was flour in the grocery store like in the 1930s?
  20. Write a story about making bread on a camping trip or at home in the 1930s.

General Notes

  1. Use all food tasting rules for your school.
  2. A bakery may make you some bread with different ingredients for a tasting party.
  3. You can make your own butter for the bread tasting party. Use cream, an empty and clean baby food jar, then shake and shake some more and shake some more. It work best if the cream is allowed to warm up to about 40 to 50 degrees F. ( 4 to 10 degrees C) This helps to increase the process of changing a liquid into a solid.
  4. Butter sales were the highest during the 1920s and 1930s in the United States. Why? Later margarine sales reduced the amount of butter sales. How are butter and margarine alike and different?
  5. Write a story about the history of butter.
  6. Why does shaking the cream turn it to butter?
  7. How was butter made on the farm during in the 1930s?


Part III: Pancakes For Breakfast

Learning Objectives

  • The learner will be able to explain the chemical reaction that takes place in cooking using baking soda and baking powder.
  • Compare and contrast the effects of baking powder and baking soda in various quantities in relation to fluffiness of pancakes.
  • Compare and contrast the effects of baking soda and baking powder in various quantities in relation to taste in pancakes.
  • Follow all rules for your school regarding tasting of foods.


Perform a KWL about pancakes, baking soda, and baking powder in the journal and compile a class KWL.

Cooking is the art and science of preparing food by the application of heat. When cooking pancakes we utilize three basic changes in matter: (1) physical change; (2) chemical change; and (3) microbiological change. The physical change results when heat is added to the batter and the liquid becomes a solid. This change is also a chemical change. In the chemical change bases react with the acids and resulting gases are released. The heat is raised and so the reaction rates increase. To a lesser degree we have microbiological changes. We basically are removing the liquid so that microorganisms have a more difficult time growing in the pancakes.

When cooking pancakes, a distinct acid/base reaction is occurring which gives off and traps carbon dioxide gas in a process called leavening. (In making the bread yeast was the leaving agent.) which in turn results in fluffy pancakes. The main ingredients which cause the “reaction” or leavening process in pancakes are baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), buttermilk or regular milk which contains certain amounts of Lactic Acid, and in some recipes baking powder is used. Baking powder is a combination of sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminus sulfate, and calcium acid phosphate. Baking powder is an interesting substance which contains both an acid and a base. Baking powder is a mixture baking soda, an acid salt such as cream of tartar, and a small amount of starch to improve the stability of the mixture. It is used as leavening agent in baking.

The lactic acid found in milk aids in the process of making great pancakes. Pasteurization destroys the bacteria which converts lactose to lactic acid, it also slows down the souring process which occurs in milk. Homogenization also impacts the flavor of milk. Lactic acids are needed in the production of buttermilk thus we will make regular and buttermilk pancakes for a comparative study between the two recipes.

Cooking is chemistry! Please explore pH either before or following this investigation so students can understand how pH impacts our food.The


A farm family, during the 1930s, was getting breakfast ready one winter day. Mom was making two kinds of pancakes. Sam started asking many questions. Mom decided they needed to design a number of experiments to discovers to answer all the questions. She and Sam would discover the answers together or have even more questions when they were done.

Question Number One:

Why are you using two different recipes? What difference does it make in the pancakes? Mom was using two recipes because she did not have enough buttermilk for the amount of pancakes she needed to make.

Sam began to examine the two recipes listed below:

Buttermilk Pancakes:

1 Egg
1/4 tsp. Salt
______ Baking powder/baking soda
1/2 TBSP Cooking oil
3/4 cup Flour
1 cup Buttermilk

Regular Pancakes:

3/4 cup All purpose Flour
1 TBSP Granulated Sugar
______ Baking power/baking soda
1 Beaten egg
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 TBSP Cooking oil
1/4 tsp Salt

Compare and contrast the recipes: Use a Venn Diagram because it works well for comparing two things.

The general directions for mixing pancake batter are as follows. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine egg, milk and oil; add all at once to flour mixture, stirring till blended but still slightly lumpy. I suggest you make dollar sized pancakes which is about a tablespoon of batter. Cook until golden brown flip over to cook the other side when pancakes have a bubbly surface and slightly dry edges. The recipe makes about 10 dollar sized pancakes.

You will need to decide the amount of baking powder or baking soda to use in this first test, since part of the investigation is to discover which amount of which chemical is needed. You can start your test here. Make sure as a control your students use the same chemical and the same amount of it in the first experiment. Select one of the following amounts so you don’t have to start guessing the amounts of baking soda or baking powder to use; 1 tsp.; 1/2 tsp.; 2 tsp.; 1/4 tsp.; 4 tsp.; and 1 TBSP.

You will measure the height or fluffiness of the pancakes. Use a clean straw or ruler, place it in the center of the pancakes, record the measurement for each dollar pancake and average the results. Place the one pancake from each recipe on a small paper plate and cover with plastic wrap. Label the type of pancake and amount of either baking powder or baking soda used in the recipe. Later these samples may be placed in order from least to most fluffy.

Taste is equated by degree of bitter and sour taste. Follow all rules in your school for taste tests. Students could make these at home and taste them however if you use a taste test it does work better to do it at school. Perhaps the cooks in your school will help out and make these up for the students to try.

Grills or skillets are hot and require adult supervision. If you organize the students into test groups for the amounts of either baking soda or baking powder to be used perhaps a parent or grandparent will come in to work with each group.

Record results in the journal and discuss results.

Question Number Two:

Sam reads the two recipes and discovers still more differences. What does baking soda and baking powder have to do with the finished pancakes? or What chemical reaction is taking place with baking soda and baking powder in order to make fluffy pancakes?

Question Number Three:

“Mom, what happens if we use different amounts of baking soda and baking powder?”

“I don’t know,” replied Mom. “Let’s find out!”
What amount of baking powder or baking soda creates a chemical reaction that makes the fluffiest pancakes?

Question Number Four:

Which recipe with correlating amounts of baking soda and/or baking powder would you use to get the best pancakes? Discuss the best way to solve Sam’s questions. Record ideas in the journal then have the class decide on the plan.

Possible Procedure:

Each group will be given a specific measurement of baking powder and baking soda with which they will make each recipe of pancakes. Students could draw to see which amounts their group will use in the investigation. If a group draws 1/4 teaspoon they will make both recipes using 1/4 teaspoon baking powder the next 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for both recipes.

Students will be experimenting to find a correlation of fluffiness and good taste by using either baking powder or baking soda in each recipe. When each group has completed the four recipes and determined fluffiness and taste they may add information in their journal and report to the class. Place at least one pancake from each test group on a small paper plate covered with plastic wrap. The samples will be used later. The class collection of pancakes will allow student to place the total collection of data in order from most fluffiness to least fluffy. Make sure the groups label their samples with the recipe used and the amount of either baking powder or baking soda. The knowledge from the experiment should allow the students to determine which chemical in which recipe made the fluffiest pancakes.

Now taste is a different story! If the students do a taste test they should taste a little of all samples produced in order to tell you which recipe really is the best all around pancake recipe. They should record the taste test information in their journal for later discussion. Remember not all will agree in a taste test, however, most will agree on the ones that are too bitter or sour. If a pancake has a sour taste it usually means too much acid and a bitter tasting pancakes usually means too much base. If your students do a taste test, discuss the area of the tongue that senses sour, sweet, and bitter.

Perform a post KWL for each student and for the class. Following even more discussion revisit the KWL to add even more information.

Ask students to list in their journal the controls and variables for the above investigation. What was the temperature your group used to cook the pancakes?

Answer all of Sam’s questions in the journal based on the investigation. What additional questions do you have? Revisit the KWL.

Learning Advice

Always debrief an investigation. Read the journals so you may assess the learning process and make comments or visit with students who have missed the major concepts.

Follow all tasting rules for your school. Invite more adults in to help with the investigation. Provide syrup for the pancakes and for fun read, If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff.


Sam had watched the making of pancakes for years without thinking about the actual science that takes place in cooking pancakes. He discovered adding baking soda to a recipe required an acid in order for the reaction to occur giving off a gas (Carbon Dioxide) which in turn gave “rise” to the fluffy pancakes. He discovered the process was a result of leavening. He found a correlation between the amount of baking soda and/or baking powder to taste and fluffiness of the pancakes. What did your students discover was the ideal amount of baking soda and/or baking powder made the best pancakes? What is the acid that caused the baking soda to react?

Assessment Activities

  1. Chemists love to place substances into groups. There are solids, liquids, and gases; mixtures and pure substances; elements and compounds; and acids, bases, and neutral substances. Based on the food investigation place the chemical materials used during the labs into the above groups. Journal responses and discuss them.
  2. Why is carbon dioxide called a bakers friend?
  3. Acids contain a hydrogen ion that gives a sour taste. Bases contain hydroxide group that gives a bitter taste. Water is neutral yet it has a hydrogen ion and a hydroxide group. Why is water not sour or bitter to taste? Using the information gained from the lab which recipe for the pancakes produced excess acid? Which recipe produced excess base?
  4. When you add baking soda to vinegar you produce a gas similar to that found in carbonated beverages. What is the gas produced? How could you prove your answer? Is vinegar an acid or a base? Do not perform a taste test of any unknown chemical to discover if it is an acid or base the chemical may be poisonous.
  5. By placing baking powder in the bottom of a jar and adding some hot tap water to the jar bubbles will form. What is the gas produced? How would you prove your answer?
  6. How should Sam make pancakes for his family?
  7. Why use buttermilk to make pancakes?
  8. Lactic acid generated in milk by fermentation of lactose, causes the souring of milk. Lactic acid is used in preparing cheese, sauerkraut, soft drinks and other foods. Why?
  9. Lactose comprises about 5% of milk. What is it?
  10. Raw milk will sour faster then pasteurized milk. Why?
  11. Vitamin A and D are contained in the cream component of milk. Why are these vitamins added to skim and low fat milk?
  12. Sodium Bicarbonate or baking soda are used medically to neutralize excessive acid in the stomach. Explain how this works. Read the label of an anti acid and record the ingredients. What did you discover?
  13. Baking soda is found in some fire extinguishers. Why?
  14. Explain how baking powder is a mixture.
  15. What does unleavened mean?
  16. Compare and contrast yeast and baking powder as leavening agents.
  17. Write a story or a poem about making pancakes in the 1930s.
  18. What is the history of pancakes?
  19. Place pancakes on the food pyramid.
  20. How is syrup made from maple trees?

Assessment Suggestions

Click on any or all the following for information:

  1. KWL Chart pre and post.
  2. Journal Assessment Rubric.
  3. Rubric for Scientific Research.
  4. Assessment Checklist for the Scientific Research.
  5. Venn Diagram.
  6. Rubric for the Research Paper.
  7. Rubric for Group Work.


Part IV: Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid Tastes Great!life0701

Learning Objectives

  • Students will explore solutions, solvents, and solutes as they relate to concentrations of Kool-Aid.
  • Students will explore the impact of temperature on the rate at which a powder dissolves.
  • Students will explore a product first made in Nebraska.


A solution is a mixture of two or more substances that cannot be separated by a mechanical means, such as filtration. In the following investigations the students will explore liquid solutions.

Water will be the solvent in our study. Water is often referred to as the universal solvent. A solvent, like water, dissolves another liquid, solid, or gas within it.

The material being dissolved is referred to as a solute. Kool-Aid will be the solute in this investigation.

A solution is made when by adding a solute to a solvent. A material that dissolves in a solvent is said to be soluble to the solvent.

Water or any solvent can hold only a certain amount of solute before it starts to settle our on the bottom of the container holding the solvent. Solubility levels vary depending on the chemical make up of both the solvent and solute. Water will dissolve many chemicals yet it will not dissolve oils.

Water dissolves almost any substance. It can dissolve the hardest rock through a process of erosion and carry it to the soil or sea. Our bodies use a large amount of water to dissolve food and carry it to all the cells of our body.

Kool-Aid was invented by Edwin Perkins from Hastings, Nebraska during the late 1920s. He moved the plant during the 1930s to Chicago in order to distribute Kool-Aid more efficiently. Kool-Aid is a concentrated powdered fruit drink that we will use in the investigation of concentrations and solutions.

The Process

Perform a KWL about solutions, concentrations, and Kool-Aid.

Compile a class KWL from the student journal responses.

Questions you could ask before your students start the investigation:

  1. Will water dissolve everything?
  2. Do you add sugar to all Kool-Aid packages?
  3. How do your students make Kool-Aid?
  4. When you add sugar to water does it disappear?
  5. How does sugar dissolve in water? Introduce the terms solvent, solute and solution. Ask students to journal about another example of a solute added to a solution that produces a solution. Discuss all of the student suggestions.
  6. Is there a limit to the amount of a solute (sugar) one can add to a solute (water) in making a solution (sugar water).
  7. Will sugar dissolve in oil?
  8. Will stirring make sugar dissolve faster in water?
  9. Can you taste salt in water if it was dissolved?
  10. Can the salt be taken out of the water?
  11. Are the following solids dissolvable in water? Baking Soda; Flour; Starch; Instant Tea; Instant Coffee; and Perked Coffee.
  12. Does the temperature of the water impact the rate that a solute dissolves to make a solution?
  13. How can you dilute a sugar solution?
  14. Is air more soluble in hot or cold water?
  15. Will a sugar cube dissolve in water as fast as a teaspoon of sugar?
  16. What is a supersaturated solution?
  17. Why do crystals grow in water?
  18. How can I get salt crystals from a water and salt solution?
  19. Is water an acid or a base?


Use Kool-Aid for the investigation. For another study in solutes and solvents you may try Alka-Seltzer, the bubbles produced are carbon dioxide and a soluble salt is produced.

DO NOT taste chemicals unless instructed to do so. Many chemicals are poisonous.

Answering any or all of these questions should lead to a gain in knowledge. At the conclusion of any investigation perform a post KWL followed by a discussion.

If you use salt in any solution studies I suggest Kosher salt because the solution is clearer than with other salts.


It is a hot summer day and it was my turn to make the Kool-Aid. I knew a cup of sugar needed to be added to each package. It is a special new drink powder we have at our house for a very special occasion. It is the 4th of July, we are having a picnic, so I hope we have some red Kool-Aid. I decided to put ice in the pitcher of water first, so I chipped some ice away from the ice block located in the icebox. Next, I added the sugar and the Kool-Aid powder. Oh, my!

What happened in the above story? How could the problem be solved? Set up the same example to show your students what happened and then allow them to solve the problem.

Place all responses in the journal:





If more water is added introduce the issue of diluting the Kool-Aid solution. Kool-Aid may stain clothing so be careful.

Observations/Data Collection:


Making a solution of Kool-Aid drink results in sugar and Kool-Aid powder being added to water. Which is the solute? Solvent? Solution? Point out the temperature of the solvent will impact the ability of the solute to dissolve. Try different household cooking powders to see if this is true. For example, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and yeast. (You may want to show the students what happens with starch at cold vs. hot temperature.)

Assessment and Extensions Activities

  1. Using the terms solute, solvent and solution correctly to explain the terms concentrated and dilute conditions in making a Kool-Aid drink.
  2. Write a letter to Kraft Foods, Inc., Box RK-G, White Plains, N.Y., 10625, USA, to gain any new information about Kool-Aid. Perhaps they can answer a question about the economics involved in the Kool-Aid business.
  3. Does the Kool-Aid drink give you any ascorbic acid? (Vitamin C)
  4. How many calories are in Kool-Aid drinks? Before and after you add sugar.
  5. On a package of grape Kool-Aid, under the ingredients it says Red 40 and Blue 1. What does this mean? What is on the back of other flavored Kool-Aids packages?
  6. On the label it says not to store in a metal container. Why?
  7. Serving size on the back of the Kool-Aid package says, 1/8 package. Explain how you would measure out one serving.
  8. How would you make sugar free Kool-Aid? Will you need a larger or smaller amount of sugar added to the Kool-Aid solution? Note: Bring in some sugar free packages of sugar and sugar packages like one finds at a café. Each package is developed to produce the same amount of sweetness when added to a drink.
  9. Make a concentrated Kool-Aid solution and use it to paint in the journal.
  10. Can you freeze a Kool-Aid mixture to make frozen treats? Will they freeze faster or slower then regular ice cubes? Why?
  11. Write a song or design a dance to explain the dissolving process.


Part V: Baked In a Cake!

Lesson Objectives

Students will investigate explain the chemistry involved in making a cake from scratch like on the farm during the 1930s.

Perform a KWL in the journal and then do a class KWL.


Students should bring several recipes for cakes. They should compare and contrast the recipes. Discuss the comparisons.

Baking a cake is a lesson in chemistry. You are mixing chemicals together to produce a new product.


Perform a KWL about making and baking a cake. Then create a class KWL.


How does baking powder impact the making of a cake?

Students should design an investigation that will answer this question. The knowledge gained during the pancake investigation may be applied to this question thus it becomes an excellent assessment.





Possible Procedure:

Cake 1:

Mix flour with warm water to make a dough. Place in a small pan for baking in an oven.

Cake 2:

Mix 3 parts flour to 1 part baking powder and warm water to make a dough. Place in a small pan for baking.

If you use this procedure with students they should be able to list the controls and variable included for the investigation.

Students should have an adult bake the cakes however they should be able to design the test procedure. Perhaps the school cooks will help with the baking of the cakes.

Observations/Data Collection

Students should observe the cakes both inside and out. Make as many measurements as possible.


Explain the role of baking powder in the process of baking a cake. Use the following terms correctly: mixture, measurement, chemical reaction, chemistry of baking, solids, liquids, and gases.

Assessment Activity

Read the book, Magic School Bus – Baked In A Cake. Ask the students to responsed in the journal for assessment.

  1. What purpose does cream of tartar perform in making the cake?
  2. What does the baking soda and vinegar produce? Why is it in the story?
  3. Why do we put eggs in a cake?
  4. Milk and butter were placed in the cake later. What purpose does this serve in the process of making a cake?
  5. What does a rise in temperature do to the dough?
  6. How did the students and their teacher, Frizzle, get the bus out of the cake? Explain the chemistry involved with their escape.

Additional Assessments

Click on any of the assessments below for more information:

  1. KWL Chart pre and post.
  2. Journal Assessment Rubric.
  3. Rubric for Scientific Research.
  4. Assessment Checklist for the Scientific Research.
  5. Venn Diagram.
  6. Rubric for the Research Paper.
  7. Rubric for Group Work.

General Notes

  1. Food and food preparations has changed over time. Change can be a good thing. Ask the students to compare and contrast food preparation for birthday party, meal and dessert from the 1930s vs. today.
  2. Allow students to produce flour by grinding the grain. Grinding coffee beans in the 1930s took place at the store or home you did not purchase it in a can ready to go. Now one can once again have fresh ground coffee if your store provides this service. Write a story about why you think grinding flour may or may not return like the grinding of coffee did.
  3. Select various cake recipes. Locate where on a map the ingredients come from today. (The answer is not the local grocery store.)
  4. Apply the knowledge gained in the food investigations to explain why raisins dance when placed in baking powder and water and/or a seven up drink. What gas is involved?

Get Published. You can also submit your own lesson plan based on this Web site to us by clicking the button at left. We will review the plan and publish it for you.




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