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Young children love experimenting… their entire day truly is just experimentation – so less structure is better and it’s more fun when introducing new concepts to them. We usually do experiments together and then I give them plenty of time to explore and test on their own with whatever ingredients or supplies are left.
What is a Food Chemist?
A food chemist is a scientist that experiments with the chemistry of foods – develops and improves (keep them fresh, change the flavor, smell, appearance, nutritional content, etc), manufacture, process, cook, freeze, package and test them.
What will children do in these experiments?
Children will learn how peeps interact with other ingredients!
Peep ‘Slime’: (We followed the recipe listed on Little Bins for Little Hands.)
This experiment didn’t turn out like slime… I would consider the texture to be more like taffy. It even tasted a little like taffy! (This might have happened because we had one less peep than the recipe calls for…) But it was fun for the kids to watch what happens to peeps in the microwave and also mix all the ingredients together to see the texture of the peep change. They played with it a little but both were more interested in tasting it.
Previously, we tested out various fruits and vegetables in water to see if they would sink or float (see my link on instagram with photos here or purchase the book ‘Awesome Science Experiments for Kids’ with the instructions here). So when I told them we would be doing the same thing with a peeps, they were very excited!
I asked them to form a hypothesis – if the peep would sink or float and why. We all seemed to agree that the peep would float because it had air pockets – similar to the fruits and vegetables that we tried. We tested the hypothesis to see if we were correct and we were.
I then allowed them to try sinking the peep. So they dunked it and pulled it apart… I would say they got a little crazy at this point and the peeps turned into chunks of white on top and powdery colored water. They threw the peep slime in the bowl and it sank! My four year old pointed out that the corn starch eliminated the air pockets which caused it to sink.
Lastly, we decided to dissolve a peep. We selected white vinegar because it was an ingredient we use in egg coloring and they are familiar with it. You could also try oil, water or any other liquids in your kitchen.
We formed a hypothesis again. My four year old thought that the white vinegar would dissolve the peep. I told her that I did NOT think that it would dissolve the peep. We put the peeps in the white vinegar solution and observed them for several days. Initially, within the first hour, the white vinegar turned a yellow color from the sugar dissolving away on the bottom of the peeps but the peep itself didn’t dissolve.
My four year thought I had won, but we decided to wait a few more days to see what might happen. Over the course of those days, the peeps did in fact begin dissolving in the white vinegar slowly. The peeps became smaller, began tearing when I picked them up and they were also sinking. My four year old was so excited that her hypothesis was correct. This was a great way to teach her that sometimes your tests have to take longer than you expect them to in order to get a desired result.