Ice Cream Science

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Updated on Jun 18, 2014

What is a liquid? What’s a solid? If you ask your kindergartener what ice cream is made of what might she say? Is it made of ice? Cream? Or is it something in between? Put on your lab coats and find out firsthand a little more about the science behind the matter. While making ice cream, your child will learn a little physics. Plus, she’ll think you’re the coolest parent on the block!

What You Need:

  • Milk (1 cup)
  • Sugar (1 teaspoon)
  • Vanilla (1 teaspoon)
  • Zip-lock bag
  • Salt (1 tablespoon)
  • Ice
  • Coffee can, or other round metal can

What You Do:

  1. Mini Science Lesson

    Explain to your kindergartener that everything on Earth is in liquid, solid, or gas form. Let her know that today, you're going to focus on liquids and solids. Then give your child several examples of each. For example, “A table is a solid and a cookie is a solid. But water and milk are liquids." Explain that liquids are things that can't hold their shape, such as orange juice. Then ask your child if she can think of her own examples of liquids and solids.  Once you think she’s mastered the concepts, ask, “Is ice cream a liquid or a solid?” Your child might say that ice cream is clearly a solid. But what about when it melts? Can something be both a solid and a liquid? Tell her you are going to investigate what happens when the temperature of something changes.

  2. Experiment Time

    Poor the milk (liquid), sugar (solid), and vanilla (liquid) into the zip-lock bag. Next, fill the coffee can halfway with ice and add a tablespoon of salt. Make sure the bag is sealed tightly. Then put the bag inside the coffee can.

    Go outside and roll the coffee can back and forth with your child for about 15 minutes. Before you take the ice cream out, ask your child to make a prediction about what might have happened to the liquid inside the plastic bag. Together, decide if the ice cream might be in one state when it's cold and another when it warms up. Does she think the ingredients will still be in liquid form?

  3. Lick it up!

    Now that the hard work of being a scientist is done, it’s time to enjoy the results!

Science is how we explain the world around us. Kids are always looking for answers to questions about why things are the way they are. Making ice cream is a fun way to introduce the beginning concepts of science—and cool off on a hot day, too!

Gina Dal Fuoco has been an elementary school teacher in California for over 12 years, and has also taught English as a foreign language in Italy. Gina is the mother of a toddler and a kindergartener.