Energy Content of Food (page 2)

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Experimental Procedure:

  1. Gather all the materials you will need for the experiment. These include2 aluminum or metal soda cans, ,a thermometer (centigrade), a large graduated cylinder, water, matches, a large paper clip , a balance , a calculator , pen, food samples such as small squares of bread, cheese, banana ,tomato, and lettuce.
  2.  Put on your safety equipment.
  3. Copy the data chart provided below so that you may readily record your data.
  4. Cut out opening on both sides of the small soda can. Leave the top and bottom intact.
  5. Make sure that the smaller can will fit into the larger can and can sit in a stable position.
  6. Take your large paper clip and bend it so that the top part is open and can serve to pierce into the pieces of food and that the bottom is able to sit again in a stable position.
  7. Use your graduated cylinder, measure off 100ml of water and pour it into the uncut soda can.
  8. Place the thermometer into the water and measure the temperature and record in your data chart.
  9. Now for each of the pieces of food you will use, measure the mass using your balance and record the data in the data chart.
  10. Now you will repeat the following procedure for each of the pieces of food and record your observations in the data chart. Measure the mass of each piece of food and record the data. Start by placing the piece of bread on the clip, pierce it on the clip and place the clip and the bread into the cut can. Now carefully, very carefully place the whole can containing the water on top of the cut can. Now light the bread with the match and let it burn. When it is finished burning, take the temperature of the water in the top can. And then measure the remaining mass. Record your data. Repeat this with all of the food samples, measure the temperature of the water each time, measure the remaining mass and record the data. Yes, use fresh water each time!
  11. Using the data you have obtained, apply the formula, Q of water = mc change in temperature for each of the foods and determine the caloric value of each of the foods.
  12. Record the data in your chart. 
  13. Write up your report. Include your armchair research and bibliography.

Data Chart


Sample Foods

Initial Mass

Final Mass

Initial Water Temperature

Final water temperature

































Terms/Concepts: calorie; Calorie; Calorimeter; Fats; Carbohydrates; Proteins; Oxidation; Respiration; Photosynthesis


  • Masterton,w,Slowinski,E., Walford, E.,Chemistry, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1980


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