Cookie Chemistry

You can’t think of the holidays without thinking of cookies! From gingerbread houses to sweet sugar cookies, everyone has a favorite—including a certain someone who is responsible for magically bringing presents to kiddos across the world!

It just so happens that National Cookie Day was last week, and because science and baking go hand-in-hand, we are going to explore the chemistry behind the perfect cookie! Too much flour, different fats, baking soda, and liquids, they all play a roll in crafting your cookie favorites.

First, let’s consider what holds our raisins, chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts together: the dough. Depending on the cookie, the dough can be created using different ingredients. For this example, we’ll use the classic chocolate chip cookie which requires eggs, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, flour, salt, and vanilla. How do these things mixed together go from gooey to great? The answer: Heat causing a series of chemical reactions.

  1. You’ve just placed your dough on the cookie sheet and popped it in the oven. The heat causes the butter inside the dough to melt, which is what causes the cookie to go from a doughy ball to a round flat cookie.
  2. Next, your cookies will blow off some steam—literally! At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the water in your dough turns into steam and the water vapor rises through the dough. Additionally, the baking soda starts to turn into carbon dioxide gas which will raise the cookie up even further.
  3. By now, you’ll start to notice that your cookie is turning golden brown in color, which means your cookie is just about done! Some tasty reactions are happening, including caramelization, when sugar reaches a high enough temperature, it begins to break down from clear crystals and transforms into a brown liquid, and the Maillard reaction.  This reaction combined with reaction from the combination from the sugar and protein from the eggs and flour creates a simply scrumptious result.

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You can conduct your own experiment by making a batch yourself and trying different ingredients, but if you want to make the classic chocolate chip cookie—look no further than this Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

 

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Science @ Home: DIY Glow In The Dark Slime

We have a theory that has been well tested at the Boonshoft Museum; most children love gross, sticky goop. This theory isn’t quite as fleshed out as, say, Einstein’s theory of relativity or Newton’s Law, but we’re pretty sure it rings true—especially during Halloween. Zombie goo, vampire blood, witch’s brew—each monster or spook has some sort of gross fluid that completes their persona, and while we don’t necessarily believe in spooky monsters, we certainly celebrate the science behind them!

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Credit: Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures

This month’s Science@Home is a homage to one of the most popular ghosts of all time. Casper is the obvious choice, but he’s not quite gross enough—so we’re going to go with our favorite mischievous, hot-dog-eating ghost, Slimer, of Ghostbusters fame.

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Credit: Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures

Slimer is green, almost suspiciously green—as if he glows in the dark. So, why not make some Slimer slime? This glow in the dark goop is easy to make and only requires a few household items. See the complete experiment below:

DIY Glow in the Dark SlimeSafety First:

This experiment requires the supervision of an adult. Please remember to not eat/drink the science! Borax, glue, and paint should not come into contact with the mouth and/or eyes.

Ingredients:

½ cup glue

½ cup water

Borax solution (1 tsp. borax with 1 cup water, mix until borax is dissolved)

3 tbs. non-toxic glow in the dark paint

Directions:

In a bowl mix ½ cup glue and ½ cup water.

Once this solution is mixed add 3 tbs. glow in the dark paint.

In another bowl, mix 1 tsp borax with 1 c. water until the borax is completely dissolved.

Add the glue mixture to the borax solution, stirring slowly.

The glow in the dark slime will start to form immediately; stir this as much as possible, then with your hands, knead the slime until it gets less sticky.

Pour extra water (if there is any) out of the bowl.

Hold your glow in the dark slime under a light to expedite the “glowing” process.

Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

ghostbuster in training

Who you gonna call?

What is happening?

There are two reactions happening when you make your slime, one is the absorption of light and one is a polymer reaction. Think of the glue like long strands of spaghetti; now imagine trying to fit all of those spaghetti strands next to each other; difficult, right? This is where the borax comes in. Once the borax is added, it immediately creates a reaction that fuses the “glue strands” together—and poof—slime!

Well, what about the glow in the dark part? There are many reactions that can cause a glowing reaction, but for this purpose, phosphorescent paint does the trick. One your slime is exposed to energy from the light in a room, it releases it at a slower rate—which results in a “Slimer-esque” glow.

This experiment not only gives children an opportunity to explore chemistry, it gives them the opportunity to experience tactile learning, which is especially important for early learners.

Take it further: Halloween is around the corner and whether you are trick or treating as a mischievous ghost or a Ghostbuster in training, this completes the costume.

For some Halloween fun before trick or treating starts, visit the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Dayton for Spooky Science Saturday and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Springfield for their Halloween Kick-Off.

Celebrate National Play-Doh Day With This DIY Recipe!

PreschoolPlayDohFind your rolling pins and get ready to create—today is National Play-Doh Day! Play-Doh is a childhood classic—spaghetti, zoo animals, simple shapes, you’ve made them all—and even if you haven’t it’s never too late! After all, there’s no rule that says adults can’t play with Play-Doh.

Some adults, however, may not know the true power of Play-Doh, especially when it comes to early learners. For many young learners, what seems like simple playing to pass the time is actually integrally important to early childhood development—and the best part? As a parent, guardian, teacher, or friend you can expand on sensory play with your little one by using observation as a teachable moment.

Sensory play” is literally what it sounds like; an engaging activity that stimulates a child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. We asked Kimberly Clough, Administrator of the Preschool at the Boonshoft Museum, for ways parents can expand on simple sensory activities, “Observation is critical to all scientific discovery. Engaging children is crucial when it comes to their learning experiences. Turn off the cell phone, the television, and sit with your child and simply engage them at eye-level, ask them about what they are doing. Think about what the child is smelling, hearing, tasting, seeing, and feeling, ask them questions — then let the learning commence!”

Can you remember the moment you learned what “soft” felt like?  What about sticky?  Or what about different smells, and how to define them? Simple observations create a moment to share what you know with your child, which helps them learn!

Because we can’t end this post without some awesome experiments, below are not one, but TWO recipes for a simple salt dough and a Boonshoft Preschool Classic, cornstarch dough. Enjoy mixing your way to awesome sensory fun and observe away!

Color_Sphere_SectionCornstarch Sensory Dough (aka Oobleck)

Ingredients:

1.5 – 2 c. Cornstarch
1 c. Water
A few drops of food coloring.

Directions:
Mix ingredients into a bowl, then add the food coloring. Try mixing different colors so your young scientist can learn that mixing colors can make new colors on the color wheel!
Expand: To add to the sensory fun, use cornstarch and shaving foam in a 1:1 ratio!

homemade-playdough-2-webSalt Sensory Dough (Similar to Play-Doh)

Ingredients:
1 c. Salt
1 c. lukewarm water
2 c. Flour
Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then slowly pour in water and mix. Your Play-Doh should be stored in an air tight container like a mason jar or plastic ware.
Expand: To add to the sensory fun you can add spices, glitter, and color to your salt dough. You can also turn your salt dough into a permanent craft creation by baking it in the oven at 2000F. To completely dry the dough out, it may need to be in the oven for a few hours, depending on the thickness of your creation. Once dry, you can have fun painting your salt dough to complete your permanent masterpiece!

Interested in different dough recipes? Click here.

See what else the Preschool at the Boonshoft Museum has in store by clicking here.

Science @ Home: Pop, Fizz, Expand–Kitchen Science With a Kick!

When you’re a kid it seems like everything messy is fascinating. The bigger the mess, the better the time. The same could probably be true for adults if they weren’t partially responsible for helping clean up. Well, at the Boonshoft Museum we are all about making a mess in a safe environment, especially if we can learn something from it!

This month’s Science @ Home experiment turns your kitchen into a chemistry lab by mixing some delicious confections! We’ve all heard the “explosive” urban legend about drinking a pop while guzzling Pop Rocks. While that is not entirely true (no, your tummy won’t explode!), the combination does produce a lot of gas. Try this classic experiment to see for yourself!

Pop, Fizz, Expand – Pop Rocks and Soda

You Will Need:

  • A Few Packs of Pop Rocks
  • Balloons
  • 12-16 oz bottle of pop (if you want to expand on the experiment, try a variety)
  • A Notebook and Pen to Record Your Observations

Experiment:

1) Open the first bottle of pop and pop rocks. Pour out a little soda to make room for the fizz.

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2) Empty the entire contents of the pop rocks pouch into the bottle of pop.

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3) Immediately place the balloon over the opening of the pop bottle.

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4) Observe what is happening to the pop and the balloon.

5) Optional: Repeat the experiment with different types of pop.

What’s Happening?

Infamous for the popping sensation in your mouth, Pop Rocks contain pressurized carbon dioxide gas. Once the saliva from your mouth wears town the candy shell the carbon dioxide is released from it’s shell, creating a popping sound. The same is true for pop, a carbonated drink that gets it’s bubbles from pressurized carbon dioxide. The mixture of the pressurized carbon dioxide in the candy and combined with the pressurized carbon dioxide gas from the pop creates so much gas, it needs to leave the bottle so it fills the balloon.

Take it further:

Try using different flavors of pop rocks and different kinds of pop. Are there different reactions? Does the balloon fill up faster, slower, or the same?

To see more experiments watch our full segment on Living Dayton below:

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Make sure you don’t miss a Science @ Home experiment by signing up for the Boonshoft Museum’s E-Newsletters and be sure to follow us on Pinterest.

Family-Friendly Brew For Your Whole Crew!

Craft beer is all the craze, whether you are a DIY home brewer or frequent your favorite microbrewery, the science, creativity, and taste that create craft beer is generating a huge buzz. While the Museum often offers special programs for families and children, we also try to strike a balance by providing adult programming that provides educational elements in a fun atmosphere.

Family-Friendly “Brewing”
butterbeer

Credit: thegloss.com

Boonshoft’s Brew School, a deliciously fun program for grown-ups, is just around the corner. Before grown-ups spend Saturday, May 23 having all the fun, we wanted to provide something for the whole family to do at home that is just as exciting (and tasty). Every Harry Potter fan has heard of the delicious beverage that every young wizard loves: butterbeer. This sweet treat can be made at home and enjoyed while watching a Harry Potter marathon with the entire family!

See recipe and instructions below:

ButterbeerNow, you’re probably wondering where the science is! Think about the classic root beer float—why does it get so foamy? It’s the same idea behind butterbeer! When carbonation comes into contact with the cold ice cream, carbon dioxide bubbles are released. Additionally, the pop helps to free the air bubbles trapped in the ice cream. Because ice cream contains a lot of heavy dairy it has a high fat content. The fat in the ice cream coats the bubbles—protecting them and allowing them to expand.

Our recipe requires that you blend the ice cream and pop, however note the chemical reaction when you combine the two in the blender. What happens? Does it foam? One thing we are certain of is that it will be delicious!