10 Incredible, Mostly Edible Science Experiments You Should Try

10 Incredible, Mostly Edible Science Experiments You Should Try

Forget the baking soda and vinegar volcano—get creative with other foods at the next science fair.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
gummi bears
Photo: iAmMrBenjamin (Shutterstock)

I have always been bad at science. Not just bad, but wholly uninterested throughout my schooling years despite the fact that my dad was a high school biology teacher. It was a problem that plagued many of my dad’s students, so he often had to get creative to get his point across. By turning to food, he was able to not only teach valuable lessons about life sciences, but incorporate his own personal love for the culinary arts into his syllabi—after all, what are cooking and baking if not everyday science experiments?

My dad has since retired, but he still holds onto a stack of these kitchen-based assignments. Try these all-ages experiments with your kids in your home kitchen for some mini lessons that might even result in a scientifically derived snack (warning: not all the results are edible). But remember, even if you don’t have any children to share these experiments with, you’re never too old to learn.

Advertisement

2 / 12

Banana DNA

Banana DNA

Sure, we’ve all heard that every living thing is made of DNA, but have you ever actually seen DNA? Well, it turns out it’s not too difficult to extract a strand of the stuff from a banana. This experiment uses chemistry to prove a central component of biology—two sciences for the price of one!

Mushing the banana together with a solution of salt water and dish soap will break down the fruit’s cell walls. Once everything’s sufficiently mushed, pouring ice-cold rubbing alcohol over the mixture and waiting will eventually release the DNA strands for examination. You’ll feel like a god.

Is it edible? Definitely not. The rubbing alcohol and dish soap mixed into the banana make for a potentially dangerous concoction.

Advertisement

3 / 12

Glow-in-the-dark Jell-O

Glow-in-the-dark Jell-O

If you can make Jell-O, you can do this experiment. All you need is one special added ingredient and an ultraviolet light. Green gelatin will get you the most eerie glow, which comes from mixing in tonic water. Quinine, the defining ingredient of tonic water, is a fluorescent substance that absorbs ultraviolet light and then re-emits it at a longer wavelength, hence the glow.

Is it edible? This one comes ready to serve. For an adults-only version of this experiment, mix in some vodka for glowing Jell-O shots (note: that idea is not endorsed by any puppets).

Advertisement

4 / 12

Rock candy crystallization

Rock candy crystallization

How exactly do gemstones form in nature? In this lesson, you’re able to see what the process of crystallization looks like in real time, using chemistry to represent a geological process. By creating a super saturated solution of sugar and hot water and then letting it cool, you’re able to see (sugar) crystals forming—throw in whatever food coloring you like to make it even more fun.

Is it edible? Heck yeah! Your end result will be a delicious, sugary treat.

Advertisement

5 / 12

Red cabbage pH indicator

Red cabbage pH indicator

A pH indicator shows how acidic or basic a compound is, most often used to check levels in your pool water or your garden’s soil or your shampoo. While pH test strips are boxed and sold, there are many pH indicators in nature, including in red cabbage. You must first extract the color from the cabbage by putting it in boiling water, and that color represents a neutral pH. Mixing drops of the red cabbage juice with other compounds will create colors ranging from red (most acidic) to greenish yellow (most basic).

In the experiment shown above, the remaining liquid is then used to test the pH level of homemade pickles, which need to be acidic enough to prevent bacterial growth, but you can use this to test just about anything.

Is it edible? Depending on what materials you test with the cabbage juice, it could be edible, but it probably won’t be very tasty. Best to avoid this one.

Advertisement

6 / 12

Solar oven s’mores

Solar oven s’mores

This is not only a science experiment showing the power of solar energy, but a great lesson in sustainability, not to mention a handy contraption to pack in your go-bag for creating some primo post-apocalyptic snacks. Using just a box, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap, you can create a mini oven that’s perfect for cooking up some s’mores in the sun.

Is it edible? Oh yeah. That’s kind of the whole point of this experiment.

Advertisement

7 / 12

Pineapple enzymes and gelatin

Pineapple enzymes and gelatin

Enzymes are proteins that help speed up chemical reactions in the human body, but under certain conditions they can be altered to lose their abilities. To see that process in action outside of the body (and get a sense of what conditions might alter it), look no further than gelatin filled with pineapple. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which can be used as a meat tenderizer but is also used in medicine as protein to combat tumors and blood clotting. Placing fresh pineapple in gelatin demonstrates the process of how it breaks down matter.

Is it edible? Yes! No inedible ingredients used here; you’ve got yourself a nice pineapple treat.

Advertisement

8 / 12

Gummy bear osmosis

Gummy bear osmosis

If you’re eating gummy bears to stay hydrated for some reason, I hate to break it to you, but there’s no water in there—it’s removed in the process of making them. That’s what makes these little guys the perfect subjects for demonstrating osmosis, the movement of a liquid from a low water potential area to a high water potential area to equalize the amount of liquid on both sides. In biology we see this in plants: it’s how roots are able to absorb water from soil. In this experiment, dropping gummy bears in various substances over the course of 24 hours demonstrates what each one’s absorption looks like.

Is it edible? While all edible, your enjoyment will vary from liquid to liquid.

Advertisement

9 / 12

Bread in a bag

Bread in a bag

You don’t really need anything fancy to make bread—just throw all the ingredients in a Ziploc bag and let science do its thing. Using rapid rise yeast and placing the dough in plastic allows you to see the yeast in action. Bubbling indicates the gas given off by the yeast as it eats the sugar, causing the dough to rise. Eventually you can throw this bad boy into the oven, which demonstrates even more science in action as the heat bakes the bread.

Is it edible? Yes! It’s bread!

Advertisement

10 / 12

Egg in a bottle

Egg in a bottle

This experiment is a lesson in density and air pressure that could also double as a magic trick (and this does involve fire, so you might want to supervise closely if you’re doing this with kids). First you’ll hard boil and peel an egg, placing it at the mouth of a bottle that it can’t easily fall into. Then simply light a piece of paper on fire, drop it in the bottle, and put the egg back on top. Voila! An egg in a bottle, all thanks to science.

Is it edible? If you can get the egg back out of the bottle, go nuts!

Advertisement

11 / 12

Color-changing unicorn noodles

Color-changing unicorn noodles

This experiment employs the same chemical reaction from the pH indicator lesson, but this time with much more delicious results. This time, you’re going to cook noodles in your purple cabbage water so that the anthocyanin (the water soluble pigment that makes it such a good indicator) soaks into those noodles. All you have to do now to change the color is add a little acid—squeeze some lemon or lime on there and watch the magic (science!) happen.

Is it edible? It sure is. You’re gonna want to post this one on Instagram.

Advertisement

12 / 12