Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hot Chocolate Science

Explore how temperature helps something dissolve with this hand-on STEM experiment, Hot Chocolate Science.

Maybe it all started with the school science fair. I don't know. But, for some reason, we've gotten onto a science kick at home. We started with a few experiments from a new science book and now, we've found ourselves in the kitchen doing some kitchen science.

We've got a few classic experiments on our list and were planning our fun, when my first grader piped up "Can we do a hot chocolate experiment?"

My first reaction was no. I didn't know of any science experiments using hot chocolate.  But then I paused. Why let that stop us? It's time to get creative!

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Working together, we came up with an idea. When we make instant hot chocolate, we dissolve the contents of the packet into hot water. We decided to find out if temperature affected the speed that it dissolves.

Supplies Needed
Three heat-proof mugs
Three packets of instant hot chocolate
Measuring cup
Notebook for recording your results.

We started our experiment by making a prediction. Which temperature of water would dissolve the hot chocolate the quickest?

The girls made their prediction (hot) and then it was time to experiment.

We started by emptying our hot chocolate packets into our mugs. We added one packet per mug. We then moved on to testing the different temperatures of water.

We tested each temperature, one at a time. We were very vague with our temperatures, using ice cold water, room temperature water, and hot water. You can always add a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature of the water to add an extra element to your experiment.

My girls took turns measuring the water, stirring, and operating the stopwatch. We used the digital stopwatch on my phone to time how long the hot chocolate took to dissolve.

For each cup, we measured 6 oz. of water. We used cold water from our refrigerator over ice, lukewarm water from the tap, and I did my grown-up duty and heated water in the microwave for the last mug. Once the water was added to a mug, one girl started the stopwatch and the other started stirring. We stopped the stopwatch as soon as we saw the hot chocolate had dissolved.

We started with the ice cold water. My third grader was in charge of the stirring. She stirred and stirred and stirred some more. It wouldn't dissolve. Eventually, we made the decision to stop after three minutes. You can see the results above. Disgusting!

We moved on to the room temperature water, which clocked in at 1 minute 38 seconds. And, then the hot water, which only took 28 seconds.

The results:  hot water takes the least amount of time. We predicted that because the instructions said to use hot water when we made hot chocolate. (And, it's called hot chocolate after all...) But, now we know why we need to use hot water.

Science Tidbit: Hot water has more energy than cold water. With more energy, the molecules in the water move faster breaking down the hot chocolate mix quicker.

We finished writing our results and unceremoniously dumped the cold water hot chocolate sludge down the kitchen sink. Ick.

What happened to the other two mugs? They were topped with a dollop of whipped cream and enjoyed!

We got a little creative and proved my first thought wrong. We could, indeed, come up with a hot chocolate science experiment. And, it turned out great!

Find more great STEM activities here:

Child-led STEAM Density Investigation at Life Over C's
Snack Time Engineering Easy STEAM Project for Kids at Handmade Kids Art
STEM Books for Teaching/Homeschooling Kids at The Jenny Evolution
STEM Activities for Kids in the Kitchen at iGame Mom
PEEPS STEAM Activities at Schooling a Monkey
How to Make a Compass at Parenting Chaos
STEM Challenge: Edible Sedimentary Rocks Model at Preschool Powol Packets
Math Magic: Finding Center of a Circle at Planet Smarty Pants
Tinker Toys STEM Pulley at Sugar Aunts
Easy Erosion Experiment at Sugar, Spice, and Glitter

You can find even more STEM activities here:

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  1. How fun! We did something similar with tea, because my daughter thought that iced tea is made with ice cold water :)


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