Check in each week at Science Buddies this summer for our Awesome Summer Science Experiments series! Each week, we’ll highlight a few activities for awesome science and engineering kids can do at home. We’ve got a whole summer of fun STEM themes lined up for kids of all ages — for free. This week: awesome summer science experiments in the kitchen!
Awesome Kitchen Science Concoctions
Head to the kitchen this week for science you can eat! Many of the activities featured this week involve the science of freezing and the role salt plays in making favorite summer treats like ice cream. There is a good bit of shaking going on to turn simple ingredients into yummy foods, too. For kids planning a lemonade stand, exploring the relationship between taste and color and whether or not things can be too sweet or sour can be a lot of fun.
EXPERIMENT: Kitchen Science Activities
If they both use the same lemonade, is turquoise or purple “mermaid” lemonade tastier than yellow lemonade? If given a choice, would you pick the red slushy, the orange one, or the brown one? Does the color of food make a difference in how you think it tastes? Maybe! Try the Color Taste Test—Do You Taste with Your Eyes? activity to see how color fits into your response to foods and drinks. For added taste-test fun, try the How Sour or How Sweet is Your Lemonade? experiment to see what ratio of vinegar to sugar might taste best in your next batch of lemonade (and how using a scale rather than a measuring spoon can be really important for making sure your batches of lemonade all taste the same)!
Once your kids realize how easy it is to make homemade ice cream, this kitchen science experiment might become a summer favorite! Use the Make Ice Cream in a Bag activity to make ice cream in a plastic bag and explore the role of salt in the process. This activity is great for making individual or small servings. Homemade ice cream doesn’t have to be basic though! See how these kids tried to recreate some of their favorite gourmet flavors. (Reality check! This activity only takes about 20 minutes. Science is that cool!)
Shaking up homemade butter in a jar is a classic kitchen chemistry activity. Kids will love the challenge of shake, shake, shaking until the butter forms, and the ingredients are super simple—whipping cream and a small jar (and maybe a pinch of salt). This is perfect “experiment to table” science. After shaking up some butter, kids can experiment with using their homemade butter to make flavored butters, like adding honey or cinnamon. (Pssst: You’ll see whipped cream form before butter, but keep shaking!)
In the Homemade Slushies activity, kids can shake up their own flavored slushies using a special ice mixture they make first with salt and water. Try this activity with different colors of juice or beverages, or add a bit of food coloring, to make awesome variations. Rainbow slushies, unicorn slushies, mermaid slushies, superhero slushies. What color combinations will your kids try? (Tip! You’ll want to plan to do this in two stages. Kids can mix up the colored salt-water ice and then put it in to freeze. A few hours later, they’ll be able to do the shaking part to make their slushies!)
Ice cream is an awesome summer treat, even when it’s baked inside a cake! Use the Bake Your Ice Cream activity to make this unusual dessert and see how meringue is used as an insulator. (Reality check: Yes! The ice cream stays frozen inside the cake!)
Use these questions to prompt conversation and reflection about the science behind this week’s Awesome Summer Science Experiments activities:
- Why might vinegar be used in a food or drink that is sweet?
- How does salt help speed up the process of freezing water?
- Several of these activities involve shaking ingredients. What does shaking do to them?
- Is making butter faster if you use room-temperature whipping cream?
EXPLORE: STEM Careers
After trying this week’s summer science experiments, kids can learn more about related science and engineering careers, like:
Pair food-themed story and chapter books like these with this week’s Awesome Summer Science Experiments explorations.
Picture and Early Reader Books
For more suggestions for science-themed summer reading, see our Summer Reading List. Also, don’t miss this roundup of creative STEM activities for storytelling and imaginative play.
Bookmark Awesome Summer Science Experiments Week 2: Kitchen Concoctions
10 Weeks of Awesome Summer Science Experiments
Follow the full summer series on the Awesome Summer Science Experiments page!