CASIS - Funding Available for STEM Programs - Jan 23


Forums / Elementary Science / Science Projects

Elementary Science

Science Projects

Author Post
Stephanie Torres Stephanie Torres 35 Points

Hello, I am a pre-service teacher and I had one quick question: Are student projects involving eatables a good idea? Will it motivate students or help them loose focus?

Elizabeth Homans Elizabeth Homans 535 Points

I think it depends on the project. If you are doing a chemistry project on how yeast effects bread, then it is appropriate to use food, and even eat it! However, if you are using edibles as models for a cell, sometimes food is not the best representation. I read in this article, "if it is eddible it's not a model. There are traditional “models” in classrooms across the country of which I imagine about 80% are edible. Models that students construct and use for the NGSS classroom are quite different. Students need to use models to explain or predict phenomena using evidence. Most “edible” models do not allow for that experience."

Andrzelika Pedowska Andrzelika Pedowska 980 Points

Hello, Stephanie Using candy for student projects is a great idea! It gets the kids excited for the activity and keeps the engaged. I would definitely recommend using candy but make sure to check for allergies before. Hope you have fun with it. Good Luck, Angie

Hudson Johnston Hudson Johnston 30 Points

Hi, Stephanie It depends on the project. If you are using them as positive reinforcement make sure that you know all allergies, religions, and other health needs of your students. If you are using them as part of a lesson, I would just make sure that it relates. I think that it would be a great idea to help students make connections. Hud 

Wendi Laurence Wendi Laurence 1480 Points

Hello, I use edible food in my experiments - dancing gummy worms, or cheerios, etc with our littles. I love to teach core samples with candy bars as they get older! But I have a rule "Do not eat science!" The kiddos know and we practice with Cookie Monster and his video "Me Want Cookie But Me Wait." They love it and learn to wait! They also bop and sing along anytime I say "Me want cookie"..... I save a small taste for kiddos if there are no allergies (luckily I teach at a school with no kiddos dealing with that right now). The taste is in a baggie and served properly - and we talk about the difference. This helps us get in good habits. Yet, almost every teacher can tell you they have said "Please, don't lick the desk." Whether the lesson was edible or not. In short, what I think when I plan lessons is --- This sounds like it will meet my student's learning needs. What do they need to know how to do in order to make it a great learning experience? From waiting to discussion skills to walking in a line on a field trip..... Teach on; Wendi

Liliana Lopez Liliana Lopez 630 Points

Hi Wendi, I really like the ideas you mentioned. I do agree with you that students will have fun with this because it changes things up a bit. It gets them excited and also engaged. Liliana

Brenda Velasco Mizenko Brenda Velasco 2695 Points

I did a project on seeds and brought in some fruit with seeds. The students had to predict how many were inside and then I cut the fruit open and compared their predictions.  I also brought some exotic fruit such tamarindo.. which they had never seen before.

Diane Bendik Diane Bendik 1557 Points

As a kid the gummy worms and candy used in class were so tempting. If anyone has done research about the "Marshmallow Test," it reveals the child's emotional intelligence. Strong emotional intelligence makes students become successful individuals. I don't think its a cruel thing to not allow them to eat it. It is only benefiting them that they practice to obey rules and build up self-control.

Darcey Bodziony Darcey Bodziony 945 Points

I agree as well that edibles would be a fun and helpful way to keep the students engaged. My only concern is making sure that obviously all allergies are clear and known so that you can pick a safe food that would not cause any harm. Just for some ideas on lessons with edibles, here is one that incorporates healthy eating habits. file:///C:/Users/slbod/AppData/Local/Temp/sc9901_38.pdf

Katie Irvine Katie Irvine 645 Points

Stephanie, I think edibles and food science could be a fun and engaging way for kids to witness science happening right before their eyes! I do agree with Darcey that you have to watch out for allergies and sensitivities; however, if that is all clear, then I think it could be a lot of fun. I found this resource from Penn State that looks like it has lots of lesson ideas for kids with food science. Check it out:

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 90613 Points

Hi Diane, Stephanie, and everyone participating in this discussion thread. There are models and there is the practice of building models in order to help construct understanding of a concept or explain a phenomenon.  BOTH have a place in science.  The NGSS clearly expects building a model to be a practice that involves constructing 'models as helpful tools for representing ideas and explanations. These tools include diagrams, drawings, physical replicas, mathematical representations, analogies, and computer simulations'. (from NGSS standards at: I have used food for a variety of activities in science.  For example, for extra credit, my students were allowed to make edible 3-D models of cells.  Students had to choose each food substance so that each 'cell structure' being modeled could provide a structure/function connection to an actual cell. When we were investigating earthquake faults, candy was manipulated to differentiate the main types, and marshmallows and gum drops have been used in my classes to build atomic models of molecules.  The students love the idea of using candy, they sneak a taste once in awhile, and are more engaged at times.  However, it is important to know the policies at your school district.  More recently, because of food allergies and other potential hazards, candy is a not allowed even for educational purposes.  We need to sure that the the candy enhances or reinforces the lesson and is not just a gimmicky reward.  Diane, please tell us more about the marshmallow test you mentioned.


Jen Gutierrez Jennifer Gutierrez 1890 Points

I love what Elizabeth said, "if it is edible, it's not a model" (that is also highly supported by Dr. Steven Pruitt). Using edibles to engage students isn't a bad idea, but it really has to have an important connection to the science concept to be of value. I think Brenda gives an excellent example of how she used food to support a concept the students were learning about. I so agree with Wendy too that our young students need to use all their senses to really engage and investigate for true sense making - school should be fun :) You also have to take into consideration school/district safety guidelines and policies when it comes to having students ingest things. Lessons that might include edibles is a great way to help all students learn how important safety in science/STEM is too. jen

Emily Shinkle Emily Shinkle 3158 Points

I agree with the common idea, "only if it fits with the lesson and adds to learning". I usually shy away from extrinsic rewards, simply because I want the students to be intrinsically motivating by the learning process itself. However, if the food is an integral part of the lesson, such as the "seed lesson", I believe it will add to the common experience of students. Allergies are of course a key consideration that may determine whether food in the classroom is a feasible option.

Jen Gutierrez Jennifer Gutierrez 1890 Points

Nicely said Emily :) We always hope our kiddos want to learn and that the lessons are engaging to them without having to "bribe" them. I think that also helps make candy or food much more effective if it's truly apart of the learning or a very special treat.

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers