How to Cook That, YouTube
How to Cook That, YouTube

10 Science Experiments You Can Eat with Your Kids

How to Cook That, YouTube
How to Cook That, YouTube

There's very little about cooking that doesn’t involve chemistry, physics, biology, or even math. But don’t tell your kids that. Sneak education into your kitchen with these 10 experiments, gathered from the websites of creative teachers and parents.

1. Corncob Popcorn Experiment

Technically, you can learn this lesson with your average depressing old bag of microwave popcorn. But using a cob of popcorn and a paper bag adds a little bit of class to the whole operation. The experiment is simply done: cob, bag, microwave, and a hundred little starch fireworks.

Fun Quotient: Any kid knows food that has to explode before you eat it is the best food.

Lesson Taught: Lots, really. First, kids can learn that of the four types of common corn, only one kind—which is actually called Popcorn!—will pop, off the cob or otherwise (it’s the only one with a hull that’s just the perfect thickness for explosions). Popcorn explodes because each kernel has a perfect drop of water inside it. Your microwave quickly raises that water to the steaming point, and the pressure of the steam rips open the hull and inflates the starchy mush inside.

2. Edible Amber Fossils

The likelihood that prehistoric monsters will be cloned from DNA stuck in amber is pretty slim. But this experiment is good way to get your little monster started down the path of manipulating nature in ways no man was ever meant to.

Fun Quotient: Stuffing slimies into jiggle-goop, then eating.

Lesson Learned: Amber is the gold of archeology. This experiment, where kids “fossilize” gummies in gelatin, helps parents explain how amber can preserve prehistoric creatures in ways more delicate than any other form of fossilization.

3. Rock Candy Geodes

Rock candy on a stick? You call that kid science? Let’s see some style! Combine chemistry and geology lessons at once and make delicious rock candy geodes, as shown by this video at How to Cook That.

Fun Quotient: Pretty edible rocks inside non-pretty edible rocks. Something for all tastes. Plus, lots of mashing and squishing.

Lesson Learned: Supersaturation! Rock candy forms because you’ve dissolved so much sugar into your water that it can’t really hold it all. So, the water evaporates, the sugar precipitates, and tiny crystals of sugar cling on to one another until you’ve got a delicious geode. It’s also a good way to study the non-edible kind of geode, where crystallization happens much the same—except with minerals dripping into the hollow space of a lava bubble over millions of years. Well, sorta the same.

4. Edible Earth

Science has yet to prove that the earth’s core is not made up of gooey marshmallow crunchies. Take advantage of this shortcoming to teach your children about earth layers, via rice krispie treats.

Fun Quotient: Let’s see. Frosting, sprinkles, krispie treats, and a molten core that looks a little bit disgusting. The only thing missing to make it kid heaven is a giant trampoline to bounce on while you eat it.

Lesson Learned: A great way to show the proportions of our earth’s interior. And it offers some philosophy, too: In the grand scheme we’re only but a thin layer of frosting, and Mt. Everest is nothing but a sprinkle.

5. Eat a Dandelion

Is that really science? Heck yeah! Finding out that weeds contain enough food substance to be made into a a delicious soup is quite a discovery.

Fun Quotient: Holy cow you can eat these? I specifically remember getting in trouble for eating things I found in our yard. This is a new birth of freedom.

Lesson Learned: Children learn plant anatomy (and how much of our diet is actually either a leaf, root, or seed), how food exists outside a grocery store, and how to ask Dad three times that he’s absolutely sure he hasn’t sprayed pesticide in the side yard yet.

6. Making Butter and Whip Cream

Just because it’s something people have been doing for thousands of years doesn’t mean it won’t be a fresh, new concept to your kid.

Fun Quotient: Mess made via electric beater.

Bonus: Highly lickable.

Lesson Learned: Emulsion! You’ve whipped so many air bubbles into your cream that the fat globules are sticking together and forming tiny protective coverings over the air pockets. But what if you don’t add extra air and just knock all those fat globs around together? They start to clump into the delightful fat-spread we call butter.

7. Eat a Candle

This one might be slightly more fun to do for the kids before you do it with them. Because it will make them think your constant threats to go mental have finally become real. All you need is an apple, a nut, and some gum.

Fun Quotient: At first, not apparent. Why is Dad making me watch this candle burn in a dark room? But then, after you blow it out and pop the whole thing into your mouth, it will become their favorite sleepover staple.

Lesson Learned: First, in science you can’t assume anything. Second, nuts burn, because they are full of oil, which is fire food. Third, never trust the old man. He’s shifty.

8. Jell-O Laser Optics

You know how your eyes work? They work like Jell-O. And this experiment will prove it.

Fun Quotient: The laser pointer alone is enough to fulfill the fun criteria. Add knives and Jell-O, and you got yourself a party.

Lesson Learned: Jell-O has the awesome distinction of both allowing light to pass through, and having enough tiny solid bits inside to reflect the light. So you can see what path light (the laser) is taking when it hits the Jell-O. The more interesting shapes you cut your Jell-O into (concave and convex especially), the more different paths the light will take.

9. Treasure Hunt the Iron in Your Cereal

What does “fortified with iron” really mean? Are you really eating iron? Grab a magnet and some industrial strength cereal and find out.

Fun Quotient: Well, buying the chocolate kind of fortification is a good start. Plus there will be pulverizing.

Lesson Learned: We eat metal, the very same metal inside rocks and rusty gates. We have to, in fact, because our bodies don’t make it and we need it to carry oxygen through our blood. Also, a chance to learn that just because a sugary cereal boasts healthful looking additives on its box doesn’t make it healthy.

10. Homemade Marshmallow Chemistry

Matter is neither created nor destroyed; it’s just rearranged—in this case, from powder and liquid into puffy dollops of happy.

Fun Quotient: All the best of kitchen science: Boiling stuff, electric mixer-ing, greasing, powdering and slicing!

Lesson Learned: Molecules like to stay together. But when you use extreme heat to pull them apart, and then introduce a whole bunch of new molecules to the party, everyone has to find new buddies. The end result is often marshmallows.

Justin Tallis, AFP/Getty Images
Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
8 Cemeteries Unearthed at Construction Sites
Justin Tallis, AFP/Getty Images
Justin Tallis, AFP/Getty Images

The people who lived before us are often just beneath our feet, even if their tombs are sometimes forgotten. Lost under urban development, they are rediscovered when a subway, building, or other structure claims the ground for progress. Here are eight burial sites that came to light in this unconventional manner.


The construction of Rome's subway has unearthed everything from a 2nd-century home decorated with mosaics and frescos to a 2300-year-old aqueduct. The San Giovanni station, slated to open in 2018, will feature displays of artifacts found during its excavation, such as Renaissance ceramics and the remains of a 1st-century agricultural fountain.

Back in 2016, extension work on Line C ran into a 2nd-century military barracks with 39 rooms, likely used by Emperor Hadrian's army, as well as a mass grave of 13 skeletons. The dead may have been members of the elite Praetorian Guard, protectors of the Roman emperor. Investigations are ongoing, although officials have planned for the barracks to be incorporated into the station architecture. Its opening date remains in limbo as archaeological finds continue to slow its construction.


In 1991, construction of a federal office building revealed a colonial-era burial ground in Lower Manhattan. The graves, dating back to the 1690s, had been lost due to landfill and development, yet were identified as part of the African burial grounds that in the 17th century were located outside the old city.

Banned from interment in white cemeteries, free and enslaved Africans and African Americans had established a place to give respect to their dead, with an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 burials. Thanks to grassroots activism, including protests against continued construction, the site is now commemorated with the African Burial Ground National Monument, which opened in 2006.

It's not the sole black cemetery to be buried under development in New York: The Second African Burial Ground, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, is located below today's Sarah D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side; and in East Harlem, a 17th-century slave burial ground, discovered by construction workers at a bus depot, awaits a planned memorial.


Burrowing deep under London, the ongoing Crossrail commuter rail project has exposed obscure layers of the city's past—and a treasure trove of history. Along with medieval ice skates and a Tudor bowling ball, archaeologists have identified two mass graves. One has 13 skeletons of people who probably died in the 14th century of Black Death (with DNA on their teeth still holding the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis); a larger site has 42 skeletons of victims of the Great Plague of 1665. The study of the Great Plague skeletons, excavated in 2015 by Museum of London Archaeology, similarly showed traces of the disease in their old teeth. (Luckily the bacteria is no longer active, so no need to dust off your plague doctor beak mask.)

While such "plague pits" have long been rumored—some urban legends say the London Underground had to curve to avoid messy heaps of bodies—study of the sites indicated that there was in fact great care taken with the deceased. The bodies were placed in individual coffins, giving them some dignity even in this hasty mass burial.


Sometimes, to borrow a line from Poltergeist, people only move the headstones when relocating a cemetery, and stray bones and coffins are left behind (digging up the dead is generally unpleasant work). That seemed to be the case with a graveyard unearthed at a construction site on Arch Street in Philadelphia in March 2017. The dozens of coffins that were discovered are believed to be part of the First Baptist Church Burial Ground, established in 1707 and supposedly moved to Mount Moriah Cemetery in 1859. The Mütter Institute spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign for analysis and reinterment of the bones, and volunteer archaeologists convened at the site, racing against time to map the grounds and remove the burials of more than 100 people. Their remains were carefully analyzed.

Archaeologists subsequently found the remains of more than 400 people at the site as construction went on in other areas. Building at the site continues, as does the grassroots-funded research on the bones (you can follow the team's progress at the Arch Street Bones Project website).


In 2013, construction on a subway in Thessaloniki, Greece, turned up the grave of a woman buried around 2300 years ago. The Early Hellenistic lady was interred with a gold olive branch wreath.

Surprisingly, this wasn't the first such skeleton found during subway construction to be so regally crowned. In 2008, another Hellenistic woman was discovered with four gold wreaths and gold earrings in the shape of dogs' heads, all indicators of wealth and respectability—something marred a bit by the sewage pipe that had wrecked part of her grave.


While digging a trench in 2013 for a gas pipeline in Saskatchewan, Canada, a contractor noticed bone fragments in the soil that turned out to be 1000-year-old human remains.

Construction was halted so First Nations elders and archaeologists could examine the area. Ultimately, the pipeline company opted to tunnel deeper to avoid disturbing the ancient burials.

It was only one of many instances of massive infrastructure projects coming in contact with pre-colonial burial grounds. In 2017, for example, road construction in Duluth, Minnesota desecrated graves when the state's department of transportation failed to evaluate the area for artifacts prior to breaking ground.


Near Weymouth in Dorset, England, a mass grave of more than 50 young men was discovered in 2009 by archaeologists doing a survey before road construction began. All the victims had been killed brutally, at once, with multiple blows from a sharp weapon visible on their bones, and their heads had been severed. In 2010, researchers identified them as Vikings by radio-carbon dating the bones to 910 to 1030 CE, when the English clashed with Viking invaders. Analysis of the isotopes in the teeth indicated Scandinavian origins. Due to their lack of clothing and their similar manner of death, they were likely executed as captives. They're now part of the Dorset County Museum.


Among the roughly 38,000 people interred beneath a neighborhood on Chicago's Far Northwest Side are the impoverished inmates of the Cook County almshouse and patients from the county insane asylum. The area was known as Dunning, and its squalid institutions were so well known that a judge in 1889 declared them a "tomb for the living." The 20 acres of the site also included a potter's field for the indigent and unclaimed, and the burials of more than 100 unidentified dead from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The potter's field was revealed in 1989 during construction on luxury homes. Sewer workers who were laying pipes also turned up a corpse that was so well-preserved his handlebar mustache was still visible. Bodies were relocated to a site now called Read-Dunning Memorial Park, giving these dead some recognition in the city for the first time.

Just Two Cans of Soda a Day May Double Your Risk of Death From Heart Disease

If you've been stocking your refrigerator full of carbonated corn syrup in anticipation of warmer weather, the American Heart Association has some bad news. The advocacy group on Wednesday released results of research that demonstrate a link between consumption of sugary drinks—including soda, fruit juices, and other sweetened beverages—and an increased risk of dying from heart disease.

Study participants who reported consuming 24 ounces or more of sugary drinks per day had twice the risk of death from coronary artery disease of those who averaged less than 1 ounce daily. There was also an increased risk of death overall, including from other cardiovascular conditions.

The study, led by Emory University professor Jean Welsh, examined data taken from a longitudinal study of 17,930 adults over the age of 45 with no previous history of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Researchers followed participants for six years, and examined death records to determine causes. They observed a greater risk of death associated with sugary drinks even when they controlled for other factors, including race, income, education, smoking habits, and physical activity. The study does not show cause and effect, the researchers said, but does illuminate a trend.

The study also noted that while it showed an increased risk of death from heart disease, consumption of sugary foods was not shown to carry similar risk. One possible explanation is that the body metabolizes the sugars differently: Solid foods carry other nutrients, like fat and protein, that slow metabolism, while sugary drinks provide an undiluted influx of carbohydrates that the body must process.

The news will likely prove troublesome for the beverage industry, which has long contended with concerns that sugary drinks contribute to type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Some cities, including Seattle, have introduced controversial "soda tax" plans that raise the sales tax on the drinks in an effort to discourage consumption.


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