Special Events · STEAM

STEAM — Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows ONLINE (2020)

Doing a STEAM program online presented small challenges like making sure materials used were available to people at home or at least wouldn’t be too expensive to purchase, and how to do an experiment with kids that weren’t there! When you’re in person, you talk about the reactions taking place or the things they’re learning but on a video, it was much more one-sided. However, I organized the program into three books and an experiment related to each and I think it worked out really well. I have another one coming up in January that I’m looking forward to!

Book: Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner; pictures by Mark Buehner


 First Experiment: Melting Snowmen

Supplies Needed:
Three packets of cocoa
Three large marshmallows
Three small marshmallows
Three styrofoam cups filled with cocoa/water at three different temperatures: hot, warm & cold
Markers (***If you’re going to drink the cocoa make sure you use edible markers for the snowman faces – or don’t give them faces at all!)

Hypothesis Before Experiment:

  • What temperature water will melt the marshmallow fastest?
  • What size marshmallow will melt fastest?
  • Do you think the cold cocoa will melt the marshmallows at all?

Discussion After Experiment: This experiment teaches chemistry and math concepts like melting, temperatures, solids and liquids, physical changes in matter, and size/surface area.

Why? Hot temperatures have more kinetic energy so the molecules are moving faster. When the marshmallow is placed in the hot cocoa, the marshmallow heats up and fast-moving molecules move it around quickly and spread the molecules apart breaking up the marshmallow. The cold molecules move slowly so the marshmallow will stay pretty much in tact.

The marshmallows undergo a physical change. Like ice cubes that become water, the marshmallows are the same (taste and chemical makeup), they just go from a solid to liquid form.

And because the mini marshmallows have a small surface area, they dissolve faster than the larger ones.

I got this experiment from Arts & Crackers.

Book: Most Marshmallows by Rowboat Watkins

most marshmallows

Second Activity: Make a Marshmallow Shooter

Supplies Needed:
Toilet paper roll
Markers to decorate TP roll
Rubber band (if necessary)

Discussion: This experiment is great for discussing elements like gravity and energy as well as angles, trajectory (the path the object follows), and velocity (the speed at which an object travels).

  • What happens if you pull the balloon back farther?
  • Try other objects like cotton balls or even pennies (be careful!). How does the weight of an object changes its trajectory?
  • Aim a cotton ball or marshmallow at the ceiling at different angles and see what happens

Book: How to Catch a Yeti by Adam Wallace & Andy Elkerton

how to catch a yeti

Third Activity: Make a fortress for the abominable snowman

Supplies Needed:
Cup – you can draw a yeti on it if you wish
Mini marshmallows

Discussion: Great for discussing physics and gravity. Why do some structures work and some not? How did you change your structure to make it stronger?

I got the idea for this activity from Science Demo Guy on Teachers Pay Teachers.


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