Plant and Animal Fat Facts

3.7 based on 6 ratings

Updated on May 02, 2014

3rd – 6th grades
Difficulty of Project
Less than $5.00
Safety Issues

Care should be taken when using hot water.

Material Availability
Readily available or easily purchased at a grocery store.
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

One day to collect the data; one day to write the results and prepare the science fair display.


Compare plant and animal fats

  • 1 tablespoon of butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • Pen
  • Brown paper bag
  • 3 re-sealable plastic bags
  • 3 cotton swabs
  • 3 plastic straws
  • Glass bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Wax paper
  • 2 clear plastic cups

We get fats from plant and animal sources. Peanut oil, olive oil, and vegetable oil are all fats that come from plants. The fat on a piece of meat is an example of animal fat. Butter is also an animal fat because it comes from cow’s milk.

In this investigation, the student will observe, record, and dry conclusions about the similarities and differences between plant and animal fats.


fat: greasy substance forming tissue in plants and animals

Fats come from plants and animals. Fats are important to our daily nutrition.
Research Questions
  • Where do fats come from?
  • How are plant and animal fats alike? How are they different?

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Label the re-sealable plastic bags “Water,” “Butter,” and “Oil.”
  3. Place the water, butter, and vegetable in the appropriate plastic bag and seal tightly. Observe and record.
  4. Have an adult pour about 2 cups of hot tap water into the bowl.
  5. Place the sealed plastic bags in the water. Leave the plastic bags in the hot water for about five minutes. Observe and record the changes.
  6. Lay the brown paper bag flat on a table. Draw three sections on the bag and label the sections “Water,” “Oil,” and “Butter.”
  7. Remove the plastic bags from the hot water. Carefully dip a cotton swab into each of the bags wetting the tips. Reseal the plastic bags. Place each cotton swab on the appropriate section of the brown paper bag.Wait five minutes. Observe and record the changes.
  8. Place a piece of wax paper on the table. Using the masking tape, create three sections on the wax paper and label the sections “Water,” “Oil,” and “Butter.” Using the straws, carefully remove a drop of each liquid from the bags and place it on the appropriate section. Use a different straw for each liquid. Observe and record.
  9. Use the straw to carefully mix the liquids: water/oil, water/butter, and butter/oil. Observe and record after each mixing.
  10. Label the two cups “Oil” and “Butter.”
  11. Pour ½ cup of water into each cup. Then add oil or butter from the plastic bags to the appropriate cup. Observe and record.


“Learning About Fats” at

“Fats and Oils in Foods: How Much for Kids?” at

“Fat” at

“How Fats Work” by Marshall Brain at

Nancy Rogers Bosse has been involved in education for over forty years â first as a student, then as a teacher, and currently as a curriculum developer. For the last fifteen years she has combined a career in freelance curriculum development with parenthood â another important facet of education and probably the most challenging. Nancy lives in Henderson, Nevada with husband and their three teenagers.

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