This popsicle STEM activity is a great way to introduce your child to the idea of running their own science experiments!
Science can be a lot more fun than many people realize, especially when there’s a sweet reward at the end of it! Not only will children be encouraged to experiment in the kitchen with making flavour-pleasing combinations, they’ll also learn the basics of scientific theory and vocabulary so they can run their own experiments! This activity is great for grades 4+.
Ready to start? Here’s what you need:
- An empty ice cube tray
- Some fruit juices (apple, orange, etc.)
- Plain yogurt
- A small amount of fresh fruit (bananas, kiwi, berries, etc.)
- A toothpick or something to test for hardness
- And a popsicle mold or two for finishing the experiment with!
Forming the hypothesis:
Pose this question to your child: Will other popsicle materials take a different amount of time to freeze than water?
Ask your child whether they think fruit juice will take more or less time to freeze than regular water. And then ask them the same about yogurt. Great! Now you’ve got a hypothesis for each item you want to test:
I think that _______ will take __(MORE/LESS)__ time to freeze than water.
And now it’s time to prove that hypothesis right or wrong. It’s perfectly okay to guess wrong in an experiment – this is how we learn things from science!
The experiment itself:
Break out that clean and dry ice cube tray!
You’ll need a “control” to make sure that you have something to test your other products against for freezing time. Can you guess what should be in at least one ice cube slot to act as the control? If you guessed water, you’d be correct!
The samples to test:
It’s time to mix up everything else you want to test. Pour a couple of different kinds of juice in some of the other ice cube spots.
Lastly, blend together a small amount of yogurt with some fresh fruit for the rest.
Ask your child how they might make the experiment “fair” by eliminating variables. Variables are small differences that could change the results and give an answer to our hypothesis that isn’t necessarily correct!
Questions to ask your child:
- Should all the items we’re testing start at the same temperature? (Yes, they should)
- How can we make sure that everything starts at the same temperature? (Put your tray in the fridge for an hour before everything goes into the freezer.)
- Can you think of anything else that might skew the results?
Running the experiment:
Once variables have been eliminated, place the chilled ice cube tray and start checking in 5 minute intervals after about 10 minutes.
Ask your child to make observations as to the freezing progress. What happens to each material?
How long does it take each one to freeze?
Once the last one froze, which one took the longest?
What a fun experiment! There’s only one more question to ask: Which popsicle tastes the yummiest? Mix up a batch of the one you liked best and pour the winner into your popsicle mold!
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