a stick of salted butter

Students will conduct experiments to discover some of the qualities of fats.

By participating in three investigations, students will discover food sources, as well as advantages and disadvantages of fats.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Show how calories can be used to compare the chemical energy of different foods
  • Discuss how foods provide both energy and nutrients
  • Determine that foods are made up of a variety of components
  • Utilize the basic information on food labels to make decisions about the nutritional value of various foods
  • Distinguish between healthy and unhealthy eating patterns
  • Develop fluency with multiplication and division
  • Collect, organize, analyze, and display data to solve problems.
  • Solve problems by comparing two sets of related data.

Teacher planning

Time required

Students will be engaged in stations, spending approximately 25 minutes at each station.

Materials needed

  • Station one: Small metal piping, corn oil, melted lard or shortening, ice cold water, and electric frying pan
  • Station two: Nutrition labels of various foods that are high in fat, grid paper, colored pencils and data sheets
  • Station three: Ziploc bag full of shortening and bowl full of ice

Pre-activities

  • Divide students into at least three groups.
  • For maximum success, you may want to reserve adult volunteers to supervise each investigation, thereby allowing you to facilitate all students as needed.
  • Set up stations as follows and post directions at each station:
    1. Investigation one: An adult must be present at this station. Turn only one electric frying pan on and melt the lard or shortening. Pour corn oil in the other pan, but do not turn it on. Provide a few cups of cold water.
    2. Investigation two: Place nutrition labels at the center, along with grid paper and colored pencils.
    3. Investigation three: Place “blubber” bag next to the bowl of ice.
    4. Optional Investigation four: Content blast with teacher.

Activities

  1. Review all previous activities or appropriate background knowledge. Tell students that in this lesson they will use some of the skills and knowledge from all those lessons in station activities. They must be ready to work as scientists do to make some important scientific discoveries.
  2. Tell students, “Some of you will be doing Investigation one, some Investigation two, and others Investigation three. After approximately 20 minutes, you will switch. But there will be a ten minute reflection and re-set up time in between.”
  3. At each station, directions and questions are posted. Students should set up their notebooks for the three investigations ahead of time by writing the investigation number on the top of a page — one page for each station.
    Station one

    1. Students will read the definitions of saturated and unsaturated fat. Then they will read descriptions of corn oil and lard (or shortening). They will predict which fat is saturated and which is unsaturated. Finally, they will test their predictions by sticking a metal pipe in each pan and then dipping it in cold water.
    2. Students will then answer questions based on the results of their experiment.

    Station two
    Students will create graphs of the nutrients in favorite fatty foods and answer questions based on the information displayed in the graphs.

    Station three
    Students will “play” with the blubber bag and make observations as to the advantages and disadvantages of fat.

  4. Once students have had an opportunity to visit all stations, gather students back together as a group. Lead a discussion on experiences and findings, station by station.
  5. Then conduct the brain writing activity. See the Supplemental Information section below. Place students in groups of six or another appropriate configuration. Each person in the group is assigned a question and writes it at the top of their worksheet. Based on their experiences at each station, each student writes three ideas or answers on the top row of the worksheet in five minutes using complete and concise sentences of six to ten words.
  6. At the end of five minutes (or when everyone has finished writing), students pass the worksheet to the person on the right. That person then adds three more ideas. The process continues until the worksheet is completed. It’s okay if ideas are duplicated.
  7. Come together to discuss student answers and ideas. Work to dispel remaining misconceptions and misunderstandings and affirm essential understandings and concepts.
  8. Finally, students compile “correct” answers on a final brain writing graphic organizer (individually or as a group).
  9. To close, direct students to all essential questions and the QOD.
  10. Have a short closing discussion to review essential understandings for this activity and add student ideas to the chart paper.

Assessment

  • Students should record an answer to the QOD in their science notebooks that correctly applies essential understandings of the activity.
  • Evaluate student responses during discussions and brainstorming, and to essential questions.
  • Assess students’ brain writing and station data sheets.

Modifications

  • Explore further the effects of saturated fat on the cardiovascular system.
  • For English Language Learners, use dictionaries or thesauruses in their native language or bilingual dictionaries.
  • For lower achieving students or those with writing difficulties, use simplified data sheets and questions.

Supplemental information

Brain writing 6-3-5

6 students write 3 ideas in 5 minutes. Each person has a blank 6-3-5 worksheet similar to the following.

Question
Name Idea 1 Idea 2 Idea 3
Student 1 Idea or answer written in a complete sentence of 6–10 words. Idea or answer written in a complete sentence of 6–10 words. Idea or answer written in a complete sentence of 6–10 words.
Student 2
Student 3
Student 4
Student 5
Student 6

Each person in the group is assigned a question and writes it at the top of the worksheet. Based on experiences at each station, each student writes 3 ideas or answers on the top row of the worksheet in 5 minutes in a complete and concise sentence (6–10 words).

At the end of 5 minutes (or when everyone has finished writing), students pass the worksheet to the person on the right. You then add three more ideas. The process continues until the worksheet is completed.

It’s okay if ideas are duplicated. Finally, students compile their answers on a final brain writing graphic organizer (individually or as a group).

Critical vocabulary

  • saturated fat
  • unsaturated fat
  • protein
  • reaction
  • clogging
  • greasy
  • oily
  • fatty
  • cause
  • effect
  • fact
  • opinion
  • muscles
  • meat
  • nuts
  • fish

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Healthful Living (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.NPA.1 Apply tools (MyPyramid, Food Facts Label) to plan healthy nutrition and fitness. 4.NPA.1.1 Plan meals using My Pyramid. 4.NPA.1.2 Carry out measures to prevent food borne illness, including hand washing and appropriate food storage and preparation....
        • 4.NPA.2 Understand the importance of consuming a variety of nutrient dense foods and beverages in moderation. 4.NPA.2.1 Compare unhealthy and healthy eating patterns, including eating in moderation. 4.NPA.2.2 Explain the effects of eating healthy and unhealthy...
      • Science (2010)
        • 4.L.2 Understand food and the benefits of vitamins, minerals and exercise. 4.L.2.1 Classify substances as food or non-food items based on their ability to provide energy and materials for survival, growth and repair of the body. 4.L.2.2 Explain the role of...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Healthful Living Education (2006)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply knowledge and behavior self management skills to areas of nutrition and physical activity for healthy growth, development, and maintenance.
    • Objective 4.03: Utilize the basic information on food labels to make decisions about the nutritional value of various foods.
    • Objective 4.06: Distinguish between healthy and unhealthy eating patterns.

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will read, write, model, and compute with non-negative rational numbers.
    • Objective 1.02: Develop fluency with multiplication and division:
      • Two-digit by two-digit multiplication (larger numbers with calculator).
      • Up to three-digit by two-digit division (larger numbers with calculator).
      • Strategies for multiplying and dividing numbers.
      • Estimation of products and quotients in appropriate situations.
      • Relationships between operations.
    • Objective 1.05: Develop flexibility in solving problems by selecting strategies and using mental computation, estimation, calculators or computers, and paper and pencil.
  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will understand and use graphs, probability, and data analysis.
    • Objective 4.01: Collect, organize, analyze, and display data (including line graphs and bar graphs) to solve problems.
    • Objective 4.03: Solve problems by comparing two sets of related data.
  • Goal 5: Algebra - The learner will demonstrate an understanding of mathematical relationships.
    • Objective 5.02: Translate among symbolic, numeric, verbal, and pictorial representations of number relationships.
    • Objective 5.03: Verify mathematical relationships using:
      • Models, words, and numbers.
      • Order of operations and the identity, commutative, associative, and distributive properties.

Science (2005)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will conduct investigations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of how food provides energy and materials for growth and repair of the body.
    • Objective 4.02: Show how calories can be used to compare the chemical energy of different foods.
    • Objective 4.03: Discuss how foods provide both energy and nutrients for living organisms.
    • Objective 4.05: Determine that foods are made up of a variety of components.