Edible Astronomy at GeekGirlCon

Photo (c) Dark Skies, Bright Kids

Photo (c) Dark Skies, Bright Kids

I’m at GeekGirlCon this weekend, and one panel is all about edible astronomy demos. Though the level of edible-ness is arguable in specific cases, they are all made of food in some way. So here are a few ways you can bring the Universe down to you using things you’ll find in the grocery store.

From the panel:

Oreo Moon Phases (pdf): This is a classic quick activity that can be done with Oreos. Though it is not as illustrative of the true process behind Moon phases (a lightbulb and a ball are the best for that) it can introduce the Moon phases in a fun and memorable way for little kids.

Oreo Plate Tectonics (pdf): I can’t have enough Oreos, and you can even demonstrate plate tectonics with the rest of your cookies. The filling makes for a lovely mantle on which to float your two pieces of cookie crust.

Making Regolith: This activity is featured in the Terraluna unit that goes along with using Moon Mappers in the classroom. Your slightly stale donuts become impactors and the cinnamon graham crackers the broken up bedrock of the lunar surface. Delicious AND destructive.

Edible Solar System: To construct a scale model system is an enlightening experience. Suddenly, the solar system seems so… empty. And yet, delicious. Well, until you get to the really tiny things. Grits are well sized for the minor planets, but not the best to eat by themselves. This particular set of sizes, created by Dark Skies, Bright Kids, has a mix of the healthy and, well, not so healthy. Be sure to bring enough for every one!

Touchdown: Another activity included in the Terraluna unit is NASA’s “Touchdown” activity. You give your groups some materials but not all of the instructions, since the point of this activity is to encourage some engineering creativity. Have fun designing a lunar lander that will properly protect your marshmallow astronauts.

From the #DIYSciZone happening right now on the third floor:

Making Craters: This is a classic and one that I’ve done all over the place. It’s not really edible, though the combination of flour and cocoa powder does smell delicious. If anyone can figure out what baked goods to make with that ratio, I’d be forever in your debt. The instructions include some non-edible variations as well, though I’d suggest not ever using tempera paint. That’s a terrible idea.

Another one that I love but couldn’t technically pull off:

Edible Comet (pdf): It’s not so good to take ice cream on a plane, so I couldn’t pull this one off. This is a good one to go with the dry ice comet demo. There’s little sillier than sending your afterschool kids home full of sugar and with bags of mud. The cookies and cream ice cream with whipped cream tail can even be covered in a crunchy shell when you pour a bit of liquid nitrogen on top. Just… wait for it all to evaporate before you dig in!

How else can you play with your food for science?

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  1. Science is COOL! « STEMming the Tide - October 28, 2013

    […] highlight of the weekend, though, had to be Nicole’s hour-long Edible Astronomy session. Aided by such things as Oreos (which Amy and I distributed to the audience,) uncooked […]

  2. GeekGirlCon ’13 Programming Round-Up: Edible Astronomy | GeekGirlCon - January 29, 2014

    […] Presenters Nicole Gugliucci, Nancy Graziano, and Amy DaviS Roth started the panel with several packages of Oreo cookies in front of them, along with what looked like fruit, nuts, a bag of rice, and a beach ball. Amy’s first job was to distribute the Oreos to the audience members, who were expected to *gasp* do science! All of the experiments done can be found right here. […]

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