Edible Earth Science Project Ideas

Edible earth science projects are a good way to get elementary school students excited about learning geology and earth science subjects such as mining, topography and mineralogy. Being able to eat their work when they have finished can also help to keep children interested in the lesson. Edible earth science is appropriate for all elementary students, and particularly so for younger students. Make sure you tell students not to eat their experiments until they get home, and check for food allergies.

  1. Cookie Topography

    • This edible earth science project uses cookies to teach students topographic concepts. Topographic maps show changes in elevation and are commonly used by geologists. Topographic map lines, called contour lines, represent different elevations. Lines that are spaced close together show steep areas while lines spaced far apart show flatter areas. Discuss contour lines with students, then give each student a lumpy cookie. Students first draw a profile of the cookie and use a ruler to find the high point of the cookie. Students then trace around the cookie and draw contour lines showing the relative elevation of different parts of the cookie. Discuss with students what a geologist would learn about their cookie from studying the topographic maps.

    Karst Topography

    • A karst is a landscape that has been eroded by the action of water on rock. Karst landscapes may include features such as sink holes and caves. This edible earth science project teaches older elementary students about karst formation. Make icing by beating three egg whites with one pound confectioner's sugar until it forms stiff and glossy peaks. Divide students into groups. and give each group a box of sugar cubes, some icing and a tray. Students use the icing and cubes to build a mountain on the tray, then slowly drip water onto their mountain, using droppers. The sugar will erode, creating caves and other features.

    Metamorphic Pancakes

    • This edible earth science project demonstrates how metamorphic rocks are created. It is appropriate for children in grades 2 through 8. Bring in pancake batter and a selection of ingredients to add to the pancakes, such as nuts, bananas and raisins. Include some ingredients that will melt, such as marshmallows and chocolate chips. You will also need a hotplate, spatula and non-stick pan. Discuss with the students how metamorphic rocks are created and then make a pancake, using a selection of ingredients. Discuss how the ingredients represent minerals being heated deep underground to form solid rock -- in this case, the finished pancake. You can make a variety of pancakes, allowing students to choose different “minerals.” When you are finished, students can eat their “metamorphic rocks.”

    Cupcake Core Sampling

    • This earth science project can be used with elementary and middle school students. Make your favorite plain cupcake batter or use a cake mix. Divide the batter into three parts and use food coloring to color each one a different color. Layer the batter into cupcake cases and bake according to the recipe. You will end up with layered cupcakes. Frost with chocolate or colored frosting – representing the surface of the earth. Discuss how geologists use core samples to study the composition of different regions of the earth's crust. Show students how they can take a core samples of the cupcake using straws. Students push a straw gently into their cupcake, twist it slightly and remove it. Repeat this three times in different parts of the cupcake. Students should examine the contents of the straw and draw a picture of what they think the inside of their cupcake looks like. Cut open the cupcakes and compare the pictures to the reality.

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