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Spotlight on Potatoes!

 


Using potatoes for science experiments can be fun and easy. Potatoes can be bought from the grocery store and are inexpensive for lots of science fun. Since the potatoes can be a little dirty, it is a good idea to wash the potatoes and your hands before you get started. For these experiments you will using raw potatoes.



Physical Sciences

Potato Clock

Floating Potato

Insulating Potatoes

General Science

Classification of Potato Chips

Potato Time

 

Potato Clock

Chemistry of the potato- Background questions

Materials

Procedure

You will be powering the clock using the potatoes as batteries.

 

Thinking about it

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Floating Potato

Background Questions

Materials

Procedure

Your goal is to make one of the potato slices sink, one of the slices float, and one of the slices be suspended right in the middle of the beaker!
  1. Get help from an adult to cut your potato slices out of a raw potato.
  2. Fill one of the beakers or glasses about three-fourths full with water and put in a potato slice.
  3. How can you make something else happen in the other two beakers of glasses?
  4. Make one of the slices float and one of them be suspended half way down the beaker of glass that you are using.

Thinking about it

Extension

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Insulating Potatoes

Background Questions?

Materials

Procedure

Your goal is to find out which material will keep a hot potato warm the longest.

  1. If you are using thermometers or temperature probes, carefully poke the potatoes with a big enough hole that a thermometer will fit snugly down into the middle of the potato. You can do this without a thermometer if you do them all at once and use your sense of touch to determine which is the warmest!
  2. Get an adult to help you heat some potatoes in the oven or microwave. You can either do them one at a time or all at once depending if you have more that one thermometer.
  3. When the potatoes are hot, immediately wrap all of them. Wrap each in a different material. You may want to leave one uncovered.
  4. Record the temperature of each potato as you wrap it.
  5. Check the temperature of the potatoes several times at equal time intervals until they have all cooled off.

Thinking about it

Extension

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Classification of Potato Chips

Background Questions

Materials

Procedure

Your goal is to seperate the all the different kinds of potato chips into small homogenous groups.

  1. Put samples of all the different kinds of chips in a bowl or plate.
  2. Put all the sample of chips together on a table or other large clean area.
  3. Begin asking yes or no type questions that seperate the chips into two groups.
  4. Continue asking questions and separating the chips until it is not resonable to separate them any further.
  5. Write out your system and see if it makes sense to someone else.
  6. Eat the chips! (if you kept them clean!)

Thinking about it

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Potato Time

Background Questions

Materials

Procedure

Your goal is to come up with a system for keeping time based on potatoes.

  1. With the help of an adult, carefuly boil several potatoes. Try to find an average time for how long it takes to cook a potato.
  2. Create a time system based on your average time to cook a potato.

Thinking about it

Answer the following based on your time system.

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©2002 Lisa Leonor Grable and David Slykhuis for Science Junction, NC State University. All rights reserved.
URL: http://www.ncsu.edu/sciencejunction/station/experiments/potato.html

Last updated 2/14/2002.

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