Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Review: Candy Experiments

Candy Experiments
by Loralee Leavitt  
Andrews McMeel Publishing 
U.S.: $14.99 Canada: $16.99
ISBN: 9781449418366
Format: Paperback
On Sale: January 1, 2013
Category: Cookbook – Baking and Desserts – Cooking with Kids

With a title like Candy Experiments, you know these will grab kids’ attention.  Subject matter is clearly chemistry and biology where they overlap (and also includes brief allusions to astronomy, geology, and physics:  comets, rock formation, and gas laws, respectively).  Most of the experiments in here are not quantitative, so the book is primarily aimed at grade school students (including your young precocious ones or possibly a sweet-toothed youth whom you’d like to see grow a deeper fondness for science) and junior high as well if terms are taught as part of the experiments.

What’s nice about these experiments is that they explore the edges of a topic.  It does not just deliver the take-home message (i.e. candy has acid in it), but it also discusses ramifications such as, for instance, in the acid-in-candy experiment, it mentions damage to teeth, the formation of carbon dioxide and how that impacts cooking.  They even make a cabbage indicator to check for acidity.

Types of experiments:
  • ·         Acidity (checked with baking soda)
  • ·         Miscibility
  • ·         Separation
  • ·         Density (liquids and solids)
  • ·         Dispersion
  • ·         Chromatography (paper)
  • ·         Convection (& factor determining -- unequal temperatures)
  • ·         Chemicals break down due to sunlight
  • ·         Solubility
  • ·         Gas Laws: Temperature’s effect on volume, pressure on volume
  • ·         Chemical properties (gelatin, sugar)
  • ·         Crystal shape and formation
  • ·         Election and light emission
  • ·         Solids and liquids (properties)
  • ·         Enthalpy of solution or heat of solution
  • ·         Capillary action/adhesion
  • ·         Hygroscopy
  • ·         Rate of dissolution and reaction (factors determining--heat, surface area)

If you wanted students to learn some of these terms, you’d want to incorporate them with your regular textbook.  Unfortunately, the above terms are not used in this book or are not thoroughly explained, which may indicate this book is more for the grade school student.  An issue that should probably be addressed--since both melting and dissolving are introduced but not explained--is the difference between melting and dissolving.  Most students do not know that there is a difference and confuse the two.

A number of these experiments could easily be made quantitative by the enterprising upper-level instructor who would like to increase interest-level of his class (most kids do love candy).  For example, use titrations with a known concentration of a base to see how much acid is inside the candy.  Density experiments could include weight and volume measurements with subsequent calculations.

All in all, this book is ideal for the grade-school student and for instructors looking to increase student interest using something that young people have a natural affinity for.

No comments:

Post a Comment