Last year at this time, I blogged about a fun science experiment to do with your students, about the difference between FAKE food and REAL food. I had a customer email me today, trying to locate that post so she could do the experiment with her students this week. In the hopes of having other teachers use this experiment with their students, I am reposting my original blog post below. In my classroom, I love to use this experiment to Now that everyone is busy making healthy eating resolutions, it is the perfect time to introduce what a healthy snack looks like!
********************** Repost from January 7, 2014******************
How do you teach your students about the importance of making healthy food and snack choices and exercising? It would be very easy to just tell kids “eat healthy,” “eat carrots instead of potato chips,” “get lots of exercise.” However, sometimes kids (and adults for that matter!) sometimes have to see to believe! Believe WHY they should eat carrots instead of chips. Bananas instead of M&M’s.
Introducing….Fruit vs. Fries…What will win? Experiment
I ask my students these questions to begin the science inquiry: What will happen when we leave a fruit (an apple or banana)? AND What will happen when we leave fries (McDonald’s!!!) out for the same amount of time??? Students then make a hypothesis. I predict the banana will turn brown. I predict the fries will turn brown. We then follow the procedures to make this a fair experiment and place both items of food on a tray. Although I did not show a picture of this, I did have the food covered, in plastic Tupperware bins. Over the course of the week, our job is simple- just observe. Observe what you notice about the food on each plate.
No, it is not the same picture, we just did not have too many changes to record at this point.
Fast forward to Day 4:
By day 4, students are beginning to make comments. “EWWWW!!!” “GROSS!” “That is disgusting- the banana is turning brown!!!” All of the negative comments are directed towards the banana because it is starting to rot. The students thought that it was great that the fries did not show any signs of “yuckiness.” One comment, “Look! The fries still look good!” “Yummy!” Other comment- “I bet we can still eat the fries after 7 days.!”
Day 5 was a Friday. The students did not want to miss anything over the weekend and were devastated that they would have to wait until Monday to observe the final changes and results. I think they would have come into school on Saturday and Sunday if the school were open!
Day 7: One week later:
Fast forward Monday morning. As I stood outside my classroom door waiting to greet my kiddos, they ignored me and went right to the experiment. Didn’t even put their backpacks down. “Oh my God!” “GROOOOOSSSSS!!!!!” “The fries won!!!!” “The fries are the winner!” “They are still fresh!” “I am going to be sick! The banana is disgusting!!! Yuck!!!” Comments of such nature up to the bell rang.
So for science that day, we talked about the results and what we observed.
The banana started to rot. It turned dark brown just after a few days. It got mushy.
The fries were at first warm on day 1. After a week, they were cold. The fries did not have any changes in its appearance or in its feel. The fries are the same color, size, and shape.
Based on these observations, all 24 students unanimously declared confidently that the fries won. I asked them to explain their thinking as to why the fries won. My students explained that since the fries did not rot and it still looked the same after one week, that must mean it is a good thing. They explained that the fries must be better to eat since they stay “fresh.”
Now…the teachable moment…I broke their heart: “Nope, the banana won.” WHAT?!?!!? They don’t get it. there are confused looks. You can hear a pin drop. Confusion. “Boys and girls, those fries are fake food. In fact, I would barely call those fries food. Fake food is made in a factor and has many artificial ingredients, chemicals, and preservatives added to it. That is why the fries did not have any observable changes during our week long experiment. These harmful ingredients are what preserve the fries from rotting, and that is NOT a good thing. “Bananas on the other hand—-as I pick up that mushy mess—-is a beautiful thing! It is rotting because it has to rot, what else is a piece of fruit that has no nasty preservatives inside of it supposed to do? A banana is an example of REAL FOOD.” REAL FOOD ROTS. FAKE FOOD LASTS FOREVER. After this lesson, we used this as a reminder for our snacks:
I then show my students the pictures of how I documented this experiment. Bananas below, before and after:
Fries below, before and after:
The next few days, we start to talk about ingredients and I show my students the ingredient list of the fries at the fast food restaurant we got them from.
So in conclusion,
We learned that REAL FOOD ALWAYS WINS!!!!!
If you are ready to kick processed food to the curb, inspire your students to do the same, you might wanna check out my Nutrition file, which is over 180 pages and contains 20 hands- on, engaging activities.
Nutrition Unit- Contains everything you need to teach your nutritionists to just say “NO!” to unhealthy fats, sugar, and junk food…while saying “YES!” to apples, exercise, and good food. All in a creative, hands-on, interactive way!
There are over 180 pages to this extensive file. Please email me prior to purchasing if you have any questions.
Activity 1: Fitness and food log-The students will keep track of all the food they eat and exercise they do for a week. They will then reflect and analyze their food and exercise intake for the week.
Activity 2: Healthy and unhealthy lunches part 1- This lesson will help your students open their eyes to the food that they put on their lunch tray if they have a school lunch or a lunch from home.
Activity 3: Healthy and unhealthy lunches part 2- Students will use photographs of real food to compare two different lunches and write about the similarities and differences with a Venn diagram.
Activity 4: Healthy breakfasts- Now that your students are hopefully making better choices for their lunches, they are ready to conquer their breakfast food! Working in cooperative groups, ask your students to dissect the breakfast displayed on Smart board/printed as a hard copy.
Activity 5: Mission Nutrition- Students will be challenged to participate in a mission nutrition challenge for 10 days.
Activity 6: Food pyramid lessons- Students learn about the different food groups with this interactive lesson. Students compare the old food pyramid to the current food pyramid, and identify the main differences between the two.
Activity 7: Analyzing nutrition labels- Student learn how to analyze the nutrition labels on their favorite foods. Lesson includes an example of a nutrition label and resources for your students to analyze their own nutrition label.
Activity 8: Fruit vs. fries experiment- This is an experiment that you will have to see to believe! Students observe what happens when they leave out fruit and fries for a few days. Lesson include an observation journal for each day, detailed directions, pictures of the experiment, and colorful posters to print for the experiment.
Activity 9: Unhealthy fats experiment- Another experiment your students will love! Each student brings a sample of their favorite snack food (crackers, chips, cookies, doughnut) to leave out for a couple of days on a paper bag. Students will use their journal to record the grease stain from their snack food, along with any other important information. Experiment includes an observation journal, detailed directions, colorful posters for you to print for the experiment.
Activity 10: Food group posters- This resource incudes a poster for each food group (grains, fruits, veggies, dairy, protein) to print and display. There are two options for you. One set of posters have beautiful photographs of real food. The other set of food group posters includes clip art of food.
Activity 11: My nutrition flip book- As you teach about the different food groups, students can follow along by writing what they learn in their own personal nutrition flip book. There is one page for each food group.
Activity 12: Exercise every day- Remember when students took the nutrition mission challenge? Now, they will take an exercise every day challenge! Students learn that recommended amount of daily exercise is 60 minutes per day.
Activity 13: Eat the colors of the rainbow- Students learn what “eating a rainbow every day” means. In this lesson, students work together to cut out pictures of foods that represent different colors of the rainbow. Lesson includes a note to go home, a student flip book, and a bookmark printable.
Activity 14: Harmful Effects of Sugar Article- Students read the article independently, as a whole group, or with partners and fill out the “3,2,1” graphic organizer to reflect on what they learned. Display the colorful “sugar shock” poster and “warning” and an introduction to reading the article. Resources include a color photograph to display, a one page article about sugar, and two graphic organizers to choose from.
Activity 15: True and False Interactive Sort- There are 16 cards that have a sentence about sugar. One at a time, a student reads the card and the class determines if the statement is a true or false by holding up their sign. Students have a discussion about the statement and place in under the correct category. After this part of the lesson is complete, students will independently read, cut, and sort the sentences into “true” and “false” statements. Resources include directions, 16 statements about sugar, one blank template to write your own, an answer key, and a “sugar shock” color poster to print if you choose to display for a bulletin board.
Activity 16: Sugar Sleuths- As a follow up to the whole group true and false interactive sort, students turn into sugar sleuths and independently (or with a partner) read, cut out, and sort all sentences into their own book.
Activity 17: High Sugar/Low Sugar Food Sort- There are 36 photographs of real food that students must identify as “high sugar” or “low sugar.” Students sort the foods into the correct category. This can be done as a whole group or as a center. Resources include a color informational poster about high sugar foods, 36 real photographs in color of common foods, and “high sugar/low sugar” cards to print.
Activity 18: Sugar Shock Experiment- Your students may just go into shock after this experiment! Students use real sugar to measure out the amount of sugar in their favorite snack. Students compare the amount of sugar in their food to the other snacks students tested.
Activity 19: Letter Writing Reflection- Students will reflect on what they learned throughout this unit by writing a letter about sugar. However, this will be done with a creative twist! Students will write about the topic from the first person point of view, which means that they are writing from the perspective of sugar! Included for this activity is directions for the students, 2 letter templates, an example of a finished letter, and a colorful poster “Dear Humans, Love Sugar” poster to display as a bulletin board.
Activity 20: No Sugar Challenge- What better way to end the unit than with a fun challenge? Students can choose to participate in a “no sugar” or “low sugar” challenge for 10 days.. Resources include a note home listing a challenge for each day, a poster to display with facts from the American Heart Association about added sugars, and a participation award in color and also black and white.
I also have two FREEBIE posters:
Go download them now by clicking on the button below:
Happy New Year’s, my friends!