In the Classroom

Science Discipline (S): Chemistry Topics:
  • Gelification
  • Temperature
  • Particle Motion
  • Molecules
Activity Title: Agar Spaghetti (Eat Worms!) Materials:
  1. 3 ounce packs of agar agar
  2. 1 gallon of orange fruit juice
  3. Two 60mL syringes
  4. Microwave or hotplate
  5. Ice chest
  6. Small cups
Procedure:
  1. Combine 1 tbsp. of agar agar flakes with 1 cup of orange juice in saucepan
  2. Stir occasionally while it heats gently
  3. Connect the syringe to a piece of tubing and pull back on the plunger until the tube is full of the agar solution
  4. With the tubing coiled and the open ends sticking above the water, place the tubing in an ice bath for at least 5 minutes
  5. Continue with the other tubing until the solution is gone
  6. To eject the ‘spaghetti’ from the tubing, pull the plunger all the way out on the syringe before connecting to a piece of agar filled tubing
  7. Press on the plunger until the tubing is empty into a bowl, transfer small portion to each serving cup
Questions:
  1. What variables do you believe are important in this activity? How would you design an experiment to test the effect of the variable on the outcome of the experiment?
  2. How does the liquid change its shape and properties in this activity?
Explanation: Molecular Gastronomy blends science and cooking, it is a combination of physical and chemical processes to transform the tastes and textures of food. The goal for molecular gastronomy is to explain and create new unique ingredients. With all the ingredients mixed and gently boiled, liquids are a state of matter that can maintain and fill their shape in any container they are in. Once the liquid is poured in the tubing, the ice chest cools it down. The ice chest contains ice cubes; their molecules are tightly compressed while a liquid is slightly easier for the molecules to convert into a solid once inside the tubing. The liquid will convert into the shape of the tubing making it into a spaghetti shape form. Next Generation Science Standards: This activity can be demonstrated at the 4th-6th grade level; this demonstration is a fun science activity that creates slimy spaghetti type worms. Some topics students will learn from this experiment are gelification and how it relates to molecular gastronomy, the different states of matter and particle motion. This activity combines agar agar and orange juice first turned into a liquid and then compressed from a syringe into a tubing to make it come out as gel like spaghetti worms. The area of the NGSS that this activity correlates to is MS-PS1-3 and MS-PS1-4 where we gather and make sense of information to describe the synthetic materials, and develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particles motion, temperature and a state of pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.