Kids Kitchen: Yeast Science Experiment for Kids

We’re interrupting our usual schedule of kids’ activities, parenting inspiration, and family-friendly food to bring you 31 days of Kids Kitchen Recipes and Activities.

Today, Jared from Dads Life Over C’s is sharing his recipe for homemade donuts with root beer glaze (that sound like they would go perfect with our no-churn root beer float ice cream) and so we thought we’d share a kids kitchen science experiment with yeast!
Kids Kitchen Science Experiment: Yeast Activation Experiment. A simple kitchen science activity for kids to explore the importance of temperature and environment in producing chemical reactions
We’ve cooked with yeast before, in making our own donuts and homemade pizza, so I thought it would be interesting to isolate the reaction of yeast in different environments.

Usually, we activate yeast in a mixture of warm water, sugar, and salt, but I wanted to see what would happen if we tried to activate yeast with only one or two of those other components. This teaches kids the importance of temperature and environment in producing chemical reactions.

A simple kitchen science experiment for kids - how to activate yeast and what conditions are best for activation

Kitchen Science Experiment Materials:

I presented Ella with this tray consisting of:

  • 5 baby food jars (would have been better with 6 but I could only find 5!)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 4 teaspoons of dry yeast

And I also had measuring cups with cold and warm water on the side.

We discussed what we knew about yeast and what we thought would happen if we combined the yeast in different ways, and designed our experiment together.

This very simple discussion lays a foundation of understanding the scientific method.

Scientific method for kids - a free printable to help parents and educators implement the scientific method into their science experiments for kids

We decided to create the following conditions to attempt to activate the yeast within:

  1. 2 oz cold water and 1 teaspoon sugar
  2. 2 oz cold water and 1 teaspoon salt
  3. 2 oz warm water
  4. 2 oz warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar
  5. 2 oz warm water and 1 teaspoon salt

We stirred one teaspoon of yeast vigorously into each jar until the yeast was mostly dissolved and then waited five minutes – the length of time we usually have to wait when using yeast in recipes.

Kids Kitchen Science Experiment: Yeast Activation Experiment. A simple kitchen science activity for kids to explore the importance of temperature and environment in producing chemical reactions

Kids Kitchen Science Experiment Results:

After waiting five minutes, we observed and compared the contents of the jars using lots of descriptive language like frothy, flat, cloudy, opaque, clear, etc.

We discovered that the warm water with a bit of salt was the best environment for activating the yeast, but that just warm water alone was not enough to activate the yeast very much, and that warm water and sugar was better than cold water and salt.

Results of our kitchen science experiment with yeast - warm water and salt produced the best environment for activation while warm water on its own was the worst environment for activation

This was great for showing Ella – my little chef – how it is sometimes the combination of factors that can produce best results, and will hopefully encourage her to explore further why recipes sometimes encourage ingredients to be at room temperature.

The very basis of baking is chemistry, so sometimes looking at a simple reaction like yeast activation can encourage children to explore the science of baking and can encourage children who love baking to take an interest in science.

Kids Kitchen Science Experiment: Yeast Activation Experiment. A simple kitchen science activity for kids to explore the importance of temperature and environment in producing chemical reactions

I hope you have a chance to give this kitchen science experiment a try — make sure to pin it for later! 
Check out the rest of our 31 Days of Kids Kitchen Series here.

31 days of kids kitchen activities - everything from kid-friendly recipes to kitchen science experiments, this series has it all!

 

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