Have you noticed on your packet of jelly (or Jell-O as my North American friends call it), that there’s usually a small note that says “Do not add fresh pineapple, kiwi fruit or paw paw as jelly will not set.”Well, we noticed, and of course, we became intrigued!
But turning our curiosity into a pineapple & jelly science experiment was actually my 10 year old daughter Jewel’s idea. I suspect she: a) wanted to make jelly b) was intrigued by the warning label on the box, and c) thought that suggesting a science experiment would be a good persuasive argument for why she should be allowed to make (and eat) a sweet treat! (She’s been learning about persuasive arguments at school…)
Well, she does know how best to convince me. 🙂
Playing with food is fun for all ages, especially if it ends in deliciousness! With slight modifications, this activity could work for anything from preschoolers or tweens!
These instructions below are for older kids, but if you did want to try this with little ones, you could modify by using ‘hot to touch’ (rather than boiling) water and cutting fruit and candy for them.
But first, let me clarify something that can be a little confusing. What we call jelly in Australia, is the same thing that North Americans call jello (or Jell-O). So, when I say jelly, I’m referring to jelly as a jiggly dessert, and not jelly as a spreadable fruit preserve (which. incidentally, Australians call jam). OK? Sorry about that, it’s an Australian / American / British English language thing…
Anyhoo, onto the experiment!
How to experiment with jelly and fruit (and candy)
We ♥ jokes in our house, especially ones that sneak in some STEM learning love! The punnier the better. We tell knock knock jokes around the dinner table. My youngest likes to read joke books before going to bed. Sometimes I pop an educational joke into their school lunchbox. We tell riddles on long car trips. You get the idea…
We had so much fun making old-fashioned lemonade last week, that we ran out of lemons! But it got us thinking – can you use a similar acid-base reaction to make fizzy drinks with other citrus fruits? We had some limes and oranges in our fruit bowl, so we decided to find out!
We happened to do this in our backyard, as it was a warm autumn day and we’re trying to make the most of the sunshine. But you can totally do this in your kitchen too – actually, it would make a fun rainy day activity for those days when you’re stuck indoors…
How to make fizzy Limeade and Orangeade, and how to turn it into a science experiment
Limes (or other citrus fruit)
Oranges (or other citrus fruit)
two matching glasses
Basic kitchen supplies (knife, chopping board, juicer, teaspoon, paper straws)
Note: Baking soda is also called bicarb soda, bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate, and can be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store. Baking powder is not the same as baking soda, and should not be used as a substitute in this recipe – unless you want to make a comparison of baking soda and baking powder part of the experiment of course!
What to do
We followed the same basic steps that we used when we made our fizzy lemonade earlier, except that this time, we used two different types of citrus juice, and we focused on creating a fair test to see the difference in the results between the two.
1. Cut a lime and an orange in half. (We used different knifes to prevent cross-contamination, or you could use the same knife if you washed it in between). Optional: Cut a slice of lime and orange, and set aside to use later as garnish.
2. Juice the lime and pour into a glass. Take a small sip to taste. It’s sour!
3. Wash the juicer (to prevent cross-contamination), and then juice the orange. Pour some of the orange juice into a second glass, stopping when you have the same quantity of juice as the juice in the lime glass. We want the volume of liquid in both glasses to be the same, as that isn’t the variable that we’re testing. Take a small sip of the left over juice – hopefully you’ll notice that it’s sweeter than the lime juice, but still ‘citrus-y’.
4. Add the same amount of baking soda to each glass. (We added 1/4 teaspoon as this is the smallest measuring spoon we have, but 1/8 teaspoon would probably have tasted better for this volume of liquid. But, for the sake of the experiment, it doesn’t really matter exactly how much you add, as long as you add the same amount to each glass).
5. Watch the juice in each glass fizz, foam and bubble! Take note of the differences between the two glasses. Which one fizzes higher? Is there a difference in the time that they fizz for?
6. Have a sip from each glass. How has the taste changed?
7. With the ‘experiment’ part of the project is now finished, but you can try adding some iced water and sugar to each glass to see if you can turn them into a tasty drink.
To be honest, Bumble Bee didn’t really love the taste of her limeade and orangeade drinks, but she did like doing the experiment! Interestingly she did like lemonade we made earlier – probably the reason why most people make lemonade instead of limeade or orangeade!
If you’re wondering which juice ‘won’ on the fizziness factor, check out this video to see all the action!
(Note: you might notice that Bumble Bee used the same straw to stir the two drinks – she should have used two straws to avoid cross-contamination. But she did it too quickly, before I could point it out! Next time I’ll make sure to remind her about this beforehand…)
Conducting a ‘fair test’ is one of the most important things in doing primary school science experiments. A fair test, is a test where you change only one variable at a time, and keep all other aspects of the experiment equal. In this experiment, the variable that we changed was the type of juice that we used. We kept the size of the glass, the quantity of the juice and the amount of baking soda the same. By changing just one variable at a time, you can be sure exactly what caused any difference in the results.
An acid is something that has a low pH. Vinegar, buttermilk, yoghurt, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, chocolate and honey are all ‘acids’. A base is something that is alkaline, or has a high pH. Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) is the most common base that we use in cooking. When you combine an acid and a base (in the presence of liquid), a chemical reaction occurs that creates carbon dioxide gas (CO2). This chemical reaction can be used to add bubbles to fizzy drinks.
All kids’ activities on this blog assume attentive adult supervision. Parents and carers will need to judge whether a particular activity is appropriate their child’s age and skill level. Click here for more information.
Mixing together pantry ingredients is generally a safe way to explore chemical reactions with kids, however, please don’t let kids eat baking soda in its concentrated form (ie, don’t let kids eat plain baking soda by the spoonful) as it can cause toxicity if too much is swallowed. It is safe to consume when used appropriately and mixed with other ingredients.
Kids knife skills vary – use your own discretion as to whether you would like your child to try using a sharp knife, or if you would like to pre-cut the limes and oranges for them.
How to make real old-fashioned lemonade from scratch, that really bubbles! Fun edible (or drinkable) science project for kids.
I’ve been wanting to make homemade lemonade with the kids for AGES! It’s one of those classic “must-do” childhood activities, and if you make yours with an acid-base reaction like we did, it also doubles as an impressive & tasty science demonstration.
There are different ways you can add bubbles to (or carbonate) drinks. One way is to use something like a soda stream which forces carbon dioxide gas (Co2) from a pressurised cylinder into drinks, making them fizzy. Another way is to produce an acid-base chemical reaction, which creates the carbon dioxide from within the drink. That’s what we’ve done with our homemade lemonade recipe here. And the best bit is that our recipe doesn’t require a fancy soda stream machine – it uses common pantry items that you probably already have at home.
We’ve played around with acid-base chemical reactions in the kitchen before, like when we made Anzac biscuits, or our Violet Crumble honeycomb bars, and let’s not forget our homemade sherbet! There’s something so impressive about watching things froth up and bubble, especially when you get to taste them afterwards.
Our lemonade recipe will taste a little different to the store-bought lemonades that you might be more used to. Fair-warning that the baking soda does have a slightly soapy after-taste. But if you add enough sugar (!), and if your kids enjoy the process, then the results are certainly impressive and memorable . We made two glasses of lemonade, (reducing the quantity of baking soda in our second glass, until we found our ‘sweet spot), and my kids are asking to make more today, so I think that means it was a winner.
Tasty science is fun for any age! You could try this from preschoolers through to primary school aged kids – Bumble Bee was 7.5 years old when we did this at home.
Younger kids will be fascinated by all the bubbles in this demonstration, and it can start to develop their understanding of acid base reactions, and that ‘chemicals’ can occur naturally and be useful in cooking!
Older kids might like to turn this into an experiment (perhaps by studying the effect of varying the baking soda quantities) using the scientific method: form a hypothesis, create a fair test, by changing just one variable, and record results. They can share their findings in the comments below!
Mixing together pantry ingredients is a safe and fun way to explore chemical reactions with kids. The ingredients used here are all generally taste-safe, however, please don’t let kids eat baking soda in its concentrated form (ie, don’t let kids eat plain baking soda by the spoonful please). Baking soda is OK to taste once it’s with the other ingredients in the lemonade.
Kids knife skills vary – use your own discretion as to whether you would like your child to try using a sharp knife, or if you would like to pre-cut the lemons for them.
All kids’ activities on this blog require attentive adult supervision. Parents and carers will need to judge whether a particular activity is appropriate their child’s age and skill level. Click here for more information.
Fun nature science + art idea for kids: how to make a cool car painting, using mushroom spore prints for wheels, and learn about mushroom biology!
Ever since we first tried making mushroom spore prints, we’ve been dreaming up fun ideas to incorporate spore printing into art or craft activities. Our mushroom monkeys were our first idea, and this mushroom spore print car painting is our second – and I think it turned out quite well!
This is such a cute and fun science activity for Valentine’s Day (or any day)! Can you make a paper heart zoom? If you’re sneaky with the dipping part, you can also make it look like a cool party trick and amaze your friends. Science magic!
This activity is fun for a bunch of age groups, from preschoolers to grade school kids. Jewel is 9 and Bumble Bee is 7 in the videos below – they can easily do all the elements without help, but they still found it fun!