Friday, July 6, 2012

Melting m&m's Science Experiment

I realized I have been remiss in including Math and Science recently.  Its a bit ironic that is the case since is was in a science classroom I spent the bulk of my career.  So, here was what Alice did for her Science Fair project this last spring.

If m&m's melt in your mouth but not in your hand, do they melt if you are wearing gloves?  (This made me chuckle, but it truly is science when they are testing out their own question.  The way kids think right?)

I convinced Alice that it would be better to find the temperature of a hand in a glove and see if m&m's melt at that temperature than to get chocolate all over a pair of gloves, so as you can see in the picture above, we glued m&m's to a tin lid, drew marker lines around them (because hot things expand and we would know melting was beginning to occur when the m&m's cracked and began expanding).

Alice measured the temperature of bare hands, gloved hands, and the temperature when the m&m's in the tin lid actually melted using our digital meat thermometer.  We did this measurement by floating the tin lid in heating water in a double boiler.  The thermometer tip was placed at the center of the tin lid.  This is admittedly not the most accurate way to measure the temperature of the m&m's but I didn't have regular lab equipment and it is for a Kindergarten Science project so we made due.

Here is Alice's results book with her tables.  I had her type it up and display all of the info for the science fair.  She was the youngest contestant and got a lot of compliments along with some good experience.

We had done some preliminary experiments that helped make this lab work.  For example, you can see the ball and ring on sticks in the final photo shown.  The ball fits through the ring when it is cool, but after heating it up, it no longer fits (purchased from Carolina Biological Supply Company, when I was classroom teaching).  This demonstrates that even solids expand somewhat when heated (even before melting must occur).  We also blew up a balloon (visible on the counter in picture number two) and measured its circumference when it was warm.  Put it in the freezer for an half an hour and measured the smaller circumference after the contents (air) inside became cold.  The air inside contracted.  We also measured out two cups of water and marked (with dry erase marker) on a glass where the volume level was.  We then heated the water, took it out and saw that the water level had risen.

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