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Before you dive into the science, I'd highly suggest reading the super fun book, Zoey and Sassafras: Monsters and Mold. In this second book of the Zoey and Sassafras series, science-minded Zoey must systematically experiment to find what will help a monster with an embarrassing mold problem.
This illustrated chapter book, is geared for readers in Kindergarten through 4th grade, and also makes for an excellent read-aloud to kids of all ages. The book series by Asia Citro features a curious girl named Zoey who loves science and animals. She is a strong, relatable character and will resonate with any kid who loves finding the answer to a question, even if it means getting a little dirty. The stories also include a bit of fantasy, adding to their appeal.
The Apple Science ExperimentJust like when Zoey had to test different things to see what would keep the mold from growing on monster fur, kids will investigate what preservatives might keep an apple slice from rotting.
Although it is best to keep the project open-ended and really let the kids take the lead, you might want to have the following available for this experiment:
- Clean recycled glass jars, beakers or canning jars (kids might also use zipper style baggies, but I like using something that can be washed and reused easily!
- Citric acid (used in preserving food)
- Fruit Fresh (an antioxidant used in canning food)
- Zoey and Sassafras science journal (free printable!)
Although there are a variety of ways students might want to design their experiment, here is one option:
1. Slice the apples into fairly even slices. (If you are really trying to go for accuracy in your experiment you can even weigh them on a food scale.)
2. Set up one slice in a jar as is. This will be the control for the experiment.
3. Determine how much "preservative" you will use on each slice of apple. In our experiment we decided to use 1 tsp each of salt, fruit fresh and honey. You could use just about anything, but this is a good opportunity to teach about being consistent with your measurements.
4. Set up as many apple slices in jars as "preservative" you want to test. For example, if you are testing salt, sugar, honey and vinegar you will need 5 jars; 4 for the apples with preservatives, one for the control.
5. Sprinkle or pour your preservative on the apple slices, trying to cover both sides.
6. To keep fruit flies under control, you'll probably want to cover your experiment, either by placing the lid back on the jar, or plastic wrap on top. Remember that sealing up the jar will also help preserve the apple slices, so take this into consideration when you are discussing with kids.
Then, make some observations and wait! This is what I would have called a "patience experiment" when I was teaching elementary science. Decide how often to observe- every day? Every 3 days? A week? and then stick to that plan.
We're not going to leave our results here, we want you to try this one yourself!
You can use this free printable Zoey and Sassafras science journal to keep track of the experiment.
After Your Experiment
Further discussion points:
- What variables may have affected what happened? Were they things we could control for?
- Why is it important to set up a "control" in an experiment?
- How is our experiment different from how decomposition occurs in nature? How is it the same?
We want to hear about the results of your experiment! Leave a comment below or tag us (@shareitscience) in a social media post!
Explore decomposition further with this Pumpkin Jack activity!
If you are looking for another great activity involving decomposition, you might want to build your own worm compost bin for home or school by following these easy directions.
You will also definitely want to check out this Insect Investigation using the first Zoey and Sassafras book, Dragons and Marshmallows.
Buy a Book and Help a Good Cause
You may not be aware of this, but when you purchase a book published by The Innovation Press, like Zoey and Sassafras: Monsters and Mold, you are not only getting a great book for the children in your life, but also helping others. For every 10 books sold, The Innovation Press donates one book to First Book, getting books into the hands of kids and schools in need.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Zoey and Sassafras: Monsters and Mold in exchange for an honest review. Zoey and Sassafras character art is used with express written permission from Marion Lindsay and The Innovation Press.