This holiday season have the kids cook up some science projects featuring a few of our favorite festive foods. The best part? This holiday activity doubles as a learning experience. Baking is a great opportunity to teach all about the states of matter! And a perfect time to talk about the scientific process.

Ah, one of those teachable moments.

For this kitchen science experiment, you’ll need:

Chocolate chips
Popcorn kernels
Fresh cranberries
Paper bag
Butter or olive oil

Let’s begin…

Heat is energy we can add to change the state of matter. In this case, the matter we’re working with is food.

There are 3 states of matter: Solid, Liquid, and Gas.

Ask the kids to list some foods in each state. It’ll make it easier if you consider drinks a food, too. They’ll quickly arrive at the conclusion that foods don’t start as gas, although they can end up as it. Eww!

Since even young kids can appreciate the steps of the scientific process, go ahead and present the kids with the steps. You can either have kids say, write or draw their responses.

Kitchen Science (Holiday Edition) - States of Matter, (cool) progeny

Question: Can heat change the state of matter (popcorn kernels, cranberries and chocolate chips)?

Hypothesis: How will the matter change?

Test the Hypothesis: Let’s add some heat and see what happens.

Observation: What happened when we added energy (heat)?

Conclusion: What did we observe in each of our experiments?

Experiment 1: Popcorn
Place 1/4 cup popcorn kernels into a brown paper bag with 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil and a dash of salt. Fold down the opening of the bag several times. Place in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until you hear the popping slow.

Experiment 2: Cranberry Sauce
Place 1/2 cup cranberries, 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar into a saucepan. Heat over medium to medium high heat until cranberries burst and sauce thickens.

Hot Cocoa
Melt a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in a saucepan over low heat. Add 1 cup milk, stir. Heat until warm.

Being a scientist is exhausting work. Go ahead, take a break and sample your work.

Final conclusion: yum.

This kitchen science article is sponsored by The Maryland Science Center. Check out fab holiday gift items from them in our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide! {TONS of ideas!}