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Science Projects With Apples for Fifth-Graders

by Maria Magher, studioD

In the fifth grade, students are learning how to conduct their own science experiments and report their findings to learn more about the natural world, including physical and chemical changes. Fifth-graders don't need expensive microscopes, glassware sets or intricate models to put together an interesting and educational science project. They can use many of the items they have around their houses to make scientific discoveries. Apples can be more than just a sweet and delicious snack for after school; they can take center stage in a science project to help fifth-graders learn about chemical reactions, anatomy and natural sciences.

Taste Test

According to Education.com, our sense of taste and smell are so closely linked that 70 percent to 75 percent of what we taste is influenced by what we smell. To experiment with tastes, students should cut up one or two apples into slices and then put out a few other flavorings and foods, such as vanilla extract, cinnamon, an onion or some cooked broccoli. Students should close their eyes, then smell one of the items while eating a slice of the apple. Students are likely to be surprised to find that the apple tastes like the item they are smelling. Students should experiment with different types of scents and different types of apples to see how the results may vary. The experiment can help students understand how the senses are linked and lead them to investigate how other processes in the body are similarly linked.

Understanding pH and Taste

Apples come in both sweet and sour varieties, and there is a scientific reason why some are sweeter than others. Fifth-graders can conduct a simple science project to learn more about the chemical composition of apples and how it influences their taste. Students should gather several types of apples, including red, yellow and green varieties, and cut them in half. After laying the apples with the cut side up, students should lay a pH testing strip on the meat of the apple. These strips can often be purchased at home supply stores. Apples with a higher acid content taste sweeter, and sour apples are more alkaline. Students should experiment with a variety of shades to see how these variables change the pH. The experiment can help students understand the pH scale and how concepts like acid and alkaline can affect them in their everyday lives, such as their diets and their taste preferences.

Keeping Apples Fresh

When you cut open an apple, it doesn't take long for it to start turning brown. Students can experiment with how different substances slow that browning process. To conduct the experiment, students should cut a couple of apples into several slices. Students should then place milk, orange juice, water and lemon juice each in a small, shallow dish. Students should put a couple of slices of apples in each bowl and then leave a couple of slices on a paper towel exposed to the air. For each dish, students should note how long it takes for the apples to brown. This can teach students about the process of oxidation and what substances slow it.

Refrigerator vs. Cabinet

Most people don't keep their apples in a bowl of lemon juice to keep them fresh. However, other storage methods can work to keep apples fresh longer. In this science project, students place one or two apples in the refrigerator, one or two apples in the cabinet, and one or two apples in a brown bag on the counter. Students watch the apples over a period of several weeks to see how long it takes for each to deteriorate. Apples placed in the refrigerator are likely to stay fresh longer since the cold air slows the ripening process. This science project helps students learn about the chemical processes that take place in apples, which can lead to exploration of such processes in other fruits and produce.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

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