Notice and Wonder

Meadow Pond Elementary School’s second graders already know a lot about the properties of matter … through eight years of eating!

“Preparing food is chemistry,” said Steven Zoeller, the district’s staff developer for STEAM and sustainability. Students know him as Mr. Z--the teacher who does experiments and builds things with them. Today's exploration was about how substances can change --sometimes in ways than can be undone, other times the material is permanently altered.

He handed out small jars of white liquid to the students.

They observed that the liquid seemed to be milk or cream.

As students took turns shaking the jars, they shared observations from their life experience about substances including eggs, water and butter changing from one state to another.

One student said, “My mom made a chocolate ganache. She dipped pretzels into it and put them in the freezer—it became hard.”

“Is that reversible?” asked Mr. Z. “What happens if you leave chocolate in your car in the summer?” The students knew the answer. “How about pancakes—can that solid change back into liquid?

Students indicated whether changes in a variety of foods are reversible or irreversible in a movement game. They also documented their findings on a grid.

Some items, like burnt toast, were tricky. “What’s your evidence?” asked Mr. Z. “Have you seen it? Sometimes as scientists we have to put a question mark in places and do more research.”

It was time to open the jars and see what happened to the contents.

Butter on bread never tasted so good!