Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Biology: Ice Cream in a Bag
This week we did a pretty COOL trick....we made ice cream, without a freezer, without an ice cream machine. How did we do it and what does it have to do with science?
First we demonstrated that ice covered in salt will melt faster than ice alone, and most surprisingly that the liquid salt water is actually COLDER than the frozen ice. We then discussed how phase change, or matter moving back and forth between solid, liquid, and gas states, involves a transfer of energy or heat. In other words, when there is a phase change, heat is absorbed in one direction and released in the other. These ideas and observations formed the basis of our ice cream experiment.
The kids poured the ice cream ingredients (milk, vanilla, and sugar) into a small plastic bag. Then they placed this bag into a larger bag filled with a lot of ice and a lot of salt. The whole business was then wrapped in a towel and then shaken until the milk mixture solidified. The rock salt caused the ice to melt quickly and reach a sub-zero temperature, so that the resulting freezing salt water could quickly absorb heat from the milk mixture, giving you yummy, delicious ice cream or at the very least, a super-cool milk shake.
Here's the procedure in case anyone wants to try it at home.
1. Pour ¼ cup of milk into a sandwich-size zip lock bag.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and a couple drops of vanilla extract.
3. Close the bag carefully, while getting rid of the extra air.
4. Mush the bag around to mix the contents.
5. Place this bag in another sandwich zip lock bag, remove the extra air, and seal.
6. Fill a 1-gallon zip lock bag with ice and a half a cup of rock salt.
7. Place the double bagged milk mixture inside the larger bag, squeeze out the extra air, and seal.
8. Wrap each bag in a towel and mix, shake, and churn until the inner bag's contents freeze.
* Make sure all bags are closed, especially before you start shaking up the bag of ice and salt.
* Double-bagging the milk mixture is important, to help reduce the odds of salt penetrating the bag and getting into the ice cream (yuck!).
* Err on the side of too much ice and too much salt.
* Try to keep the milk mixture bag in the middle of the ice, and especially in the middle of the melted salt water.
* See what happens if you add different flavors like chocolate syrup or lemon juice.