I Scream For Ice Cream

Story by Udonnem Igwe. Photo by Jaylin Jerry.

April 30, 2015. Who doesn’t enjoy eating ice cream, especially on hot summer day, or just for a delicious treat? When students were told that they were going to be doing just that, hearts began pounding with excitement, then doubt. How is this possible at school? Not typical right?  Well, many of the 8th graders at Woodridge know that science in Ms. Beckwith’s class isn’t your typical classroom either. On this particular morning a group of students created something delicious just by shaking a bag! We all had a puzzled look on our faces.

This was an incredible hands-on lesson that explored the history of ice cream and dairy products, the chemistry of ice, salt and exothermic reactions that guided students through the scientific method.

While doing this experiment we learned that you do not need special machines or equipment to make ice cream. All we needed was 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon sugar, 4 cups crushed ice, 4 tablespoons salt, 2 quart-sized Zip-loc bags, 1 gallon-sized Zip-loc freezer bag and gloves to keep our fingers from freezing.

Easier said than done, right? As the students worked on this project, not everyone was lucky enough to make delicious ice cream. Our science teacher conducted a taste contest to see who’s ice cream tasted the best and also to see who carefully followed the instructions. Sadly my group’s ice cream did not win because salt water leaked inside of the bag. We forgot to make sure that the bag was sealed tightly, allowing as little air to remain inside as possible. We noticed that too much air left inside forced the bag to open during shaking.

Nevertheless, we learned some interesting things about the process. When salt comes into contact with ice, the freezing point of the ice is lowered. By lowering the temperature at which ice is frozen, we were able to create formula in which the milk mixture can freeze at a temperature below 32 degrees F into ice cream.

Not only was this experiment beneficial to our learning, but it was fun as well! Science is one of those subjects where you are constantly learning new information by the way of fun activities and hands-on engaging group experiments. Making ice cream at school was surely a cool treat! While spring is here and warmer weather is quickly coming around the corner, you might be thinking more and more about making your own ice cream rather than going to your neighborhood store.

Udonnem Igwe is an 8th grade scholar at Friendship Woodridge Academy.