Sophomore Honors Chemistry students conducted a lab today to determine the number of calories in various food items after learning about calorimetry.
The class was instructed to create a calorimeter using a soda can filled with water. A potato or tortilla chip was burned under the can to heat the water. Students then used formulas previously learned in class to determine the number of calories in the food.
“It really showed me how to apply the material we are learning in real life,” sophomore Angela Chao said. “It was interesting to figure out how many calories are in a potato chip ourselves.”
Chemistry teacher Roderick Mobley has been doing this lab for multiple years because it is a good way to apply some of the equations learned in class.
“You need to see the problems in action,” Mobley said. “Everything doesn’t always work perfectly in practice as it does on paper, and you don’t really get to see that unless you do labs.”
Some students find it easier to understand the material when seeing what they are learning in action.
“I feel like it’s a lot easier to do math when you can actually see what you’re doing,” sophomore Elizabeth O’Boyle said. “You can actually see what the results of your experiment are.”
Each lab group determined the calories for two potato chips and two tortilla chips, but they had the option to perform the lab on other foods, such as granola bars and even gum.
“It’s interesting to see what’s inside a potato chip,” Chao said. “There’s a lot more grease that I thought there would be in the chip. Some were bubbling with grease.”