Today was the day for everyone’s favorite lab of the year – the ice cream lab!
What is the Ice Cream Lab?
The ice cream lab is a fantastic, fun, super-engaging way to teach freezing point depression and phase change. Give students a large ziploc bag, a small ziploc bag, a bunch of ice, some salt, a cup of milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, and a dropper of vanilla and let them mace ice cream.
Fill the small bag with the milk, sugar, and vanilla and zip it up really well. Put the baggie into the large ziploc bag and cover with ice and salt. Let partners take turns flipping the bag upside down for about 15 minutes. I always use that 15 minutes to talk about freezing point depression and relate it to the salt we use on our icy roads in the winter. Review vocabulary like phase change, freezing point, melting point, etcetera.
And, after 15 minutes, the contents of your small baggie will have turned into a pretty good vanilla ice cream – enough for a scoop each for the 2 partners.
Gamify your ice cream lab a little by turning your vocabulary review into a Q&A with rewards like chocolate syrup, maraschino cherries, and sprinkles.
Ways to modify the Ice Cream Lab
I can talk about freezing point depression until the cows come home (a little dairy humor there, did you see?), but nothing helps students understand it than to kick up your lab with some controls and variables.
Have one group try making ice cream without salt in the ice. Have another group add more salt. A third group can add more sugar to the milk. A fourth group can add less sugar to the milk.
Fair warning, though. Variations on the recipe won’t result in a delicious product so have some extra on hand for the kids who tested the variables!
What does the Ice Cream Lab fit into your curriculum?
There are a few places where the ice cream lab fits into your curriculum:
- Before you teach states of matter or phase change, the Ice Cream Lab is a great way to introduce phenomenon. Why does the milk change? How does the milk change? What does the salt do? What does the sugar do?
- After states of matter and phase change, the Ice Cream lab is a good activity to do while you’re doing your pre-assessment review.
I’ve just uploaded my version of the Ice Cream Lab to my TpT store if you want to check it out!