Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ATLAS: Marshmallow Peep Science

My tweens love science programs, so when I saw this program Lisa had done, I knew I had to try it. It seemed like common sense that sugar based treats and science would make a winning combination (see my previous "Candy Science" program). I figured Peep Science would be the perfect theme for this month's ATLAS (At The Library After School).

I registered twelve 3rd through 6th graders for this program. We did all experiments simultaneously, but they could also be done as a series of stations.

Here is what we did:

Step 1: Initial Observation

Supplies needed: 
One Peep per person 
Observation sheet

Like Lisa, I started out having the kids make some simple observations about their Peeps. I provided them with an observation sheet that they could use throughout the program. They were told to measure their Peep, draw their Peep, and make any other relevant observations. I explained that once these observations were made the Peeps would be facing harrowing conditions throughout the program. Kind of like the Hunger Games for Peeps!

Step 2: Harrowing conditions

Cold Peep

Supplies needed:

One frozen Peep per person

I asked the kids what would happen if Peeps were kept in the freezer overnight. After they made their predictions I gave them each a frozen Peep to repeat our observation process on.  The Peeps really don't freeze very much, so it was interesting to see how the kids' predictions differed from what really happened. When I told them I had only kept the Peeps in the freezer overnight, several said they wanted to see what would happen if they were kept frozen longer. Hooray for extending the experiment even further!

Sinkable (?) Peep

Supplies needed:
Previous passed out unfrozen Peeps

Our kid scientists were next asked to predict if the Peeps would sink or float. SPOILER ALERT: They floated. This led to a discussion about how we could get them to sink. We talked about density, and tried two different methods to make the Peeps more dense. The first was squishing them, and the second was sticking pennies in them. Using the pennies several kids got their Peeps to sink!

Color Mixing Peeps

Supplies needed:
Peeps in a variety of colors

Next we used Sprite to dissolve the color off two differently colored Peeps. This was another idea I got from Lisa's program. Tip: If you slice the Peeps in half it works just as well and spares additional Peeps from this particular harrowing condition.

Exploding Peep

Supplies needed:


I just had to use this opportunity to show the kids how Peeps expand when heated in the microwave. Since I didn't get any video, here is a representation of exactly what happens:

We also used the microwave to create Peeps playdough. I did a demonstration batch and sent the kids home with the recipe.

Step 3: Eating Peeps

In addition to learning a lot from the experiments, the scientists enjoyed eating their research subjects.

Next month's ATLAS will be Marble Madness! If you have any marble related activity ideas please let me know.

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