"We are exploring matter in its solid, liquid, and gas forms," said Ms. Kenny. "The question that was asked was: what form of matter is ice cream? Is it a solid, a liquid, a gas?"
Much discussion ensued. Some students thought it was solid because when it is frozen, it can be quite hard. Others believed it was liquid because as it melts it drips everywhere (particularly when served in a cone.) Others pointed out that gas bubbles cause the ice cream to be more fluffy and airy.
So like the good young scientists they are, the students mixed the ingredients and made their own servings of ice cream, right in class!
Ms. Kenny provided common household materials. In a small zip-loc bag, they mixed half and half, sugar, and vanilla extract. After sealing it up, they placed that into a larger freezer bag containing ice and rock salt. Then they shook, shook, shook!
"The students really enjoyed shaking up the mixture," said Ms. Kenny. "Seeing their ice cream take shape was amazing, but getting to eat it was magical!”
As Gautama N. was celebrating his 11th birthday, he got the privilege of mixing his batch first and was the first to taste it.
"It's great," he said.
Fifth-grader Harper H. remarked, "We really got to see how it works and visualize it, which I thought was special, because we really got to understand it and learn about it."
"We really learned to make ice cream," said Gautama. "Now I can do it at my house."
So what state of matter is ice cream?
"It is all three states of matter," said Gautama. "The oxygen is gas, the solid is ice, and the liquid would be probably the milk."
Ms. Kenny explained that, in fact, ice cream is actually a type of emulsion — a combination of solid, liquid, and gas.