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Christmas trifle

  • Key Stage 3
  • GCSE
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Simulation
Topic: Particles

Christmas – a time for giving, sharing, caring…and eating. Many families will tuck into trifle this Christmas. The nice thing about trifle is the mixture of textures. How do cooks, chefs and food scientists get these textures from a limited range of starting materials?

In this Christmas-themed activity students learn about colloidal mixtures and the importance of a balanced diet. They also consider the skills needed to become a food scientist – and are perhaps inspired to think more about the possibility of this as a future career.

11-16 How Science Works:
Data, evidence, theories and explanations
1c Explanations of many phenomena can be developed using scientific
theories, models and ideas.

Published: 12th December 2007
Reviews & Comments: 3

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Learning objectives

• Consider the skills needed to be a food scientist.
• Consider the nature of various colloidal mixtures.
• Consider the need for a balanced diet.

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

11-14 (KS3)

From September 2008
1.1a Using scientific ideas and models to explain phenomena.

3.2a The particle model provides explanations for the different physical properties and behaviour of matter.

3.3c Growth, development, behaviour and health can be affected by diet.

Until September 2008
QCA unit 7g Particles

QCA unit 8a Food and digestion

14-16 (KS4)

How science works
Data, evidence, theories and explanations
1c Explanations of many phenomena can be developed using scientific
theories, models and ideas.

GCSE specifications
AQA – Core
Unit C 1b
11.2 What can we do to keep our bodies healthy?

AQA – Applied
Describe the composition of a solution, suspension, gel, emulsion, foam and aerosol

Unit C 1a
6.14 Recognise cooking processes as chemical changes leading to new products

Unit B3
1.7 The importance of having a well-balanced diet, in terms of a healthy lifestyle

OCR 21st Century Science
Module C3
C3.4 Why does what we eat affect our health?

Running the activity

Page 1 This introduces the idea of the job of food scientist and suggests to students that a knowledge of the chemistry behind making food taste good is an important requirement for the job, and prompts them to find out further skills / knowledge / qualifications / personal presentation and attributes they would need (see page 3 for more information page 4 for the task).

Page 2 A chef explains the science behind the different layers. There are no diagrams on the page as the next task is to draw particle diagrams from the written information. It may be useful for teachers to draw diagrams on the boards as the page is discussed, then remove them before the next page's task. Note that traditionally custard is made with milk, sugar, vanilla and eggs however most custard in Britain is the type invented by Bird's, which uses cornstarch instead. Foams, gels and emulsions are all colloids – there is a link to information about colloids below.

Page 3 is a job description for the role of food scientist.

Page 4 Students use the information from page 2 to draw particle diagrams to show the arrangement of particles in each mixture and the information from page 3 to complete the third part of the task.

Page 5 Christmas foods usually contain lots of fat and carbohydrates to give us energy and keep us warm over the winter. But excess energy gets stored as fat – and too much body fat can damage our health. Students use the Eatwell plate on page 5 to design a 3 course menu (the number of choices for each course can vary according to the amount of time available, and it can be Christmas-y or not) and then write Santa a letter to tell him how to eat well in future.

News links

How to get the air into whipped cream.

Media links

Foams, gels and emulsions are all colloids – a useful at a glance guide.
How to get the bubbles of air into a sponge cake.
Explains why jelly is so wobbly.
Explains why cooked custard is different from an uncooked mixture of custard powder with water - the stuff you can walk on.
Food Standards Agency
Downloadable pdf of the eatwell plate.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Jun 27th, 2008

5 Star

I have not downloaded any activities as such or used. So I cannot give you my views at the moment, but I use them I wii surely let you know.

Reviewer: hansika pandya

Christmas trifle review

Jan 2nd, 2008

2 Star

I have used other activities on this website for my classes and found them brilliant, but not this one. I had hoped to use it in the last lesson before christmas with a very bright year 8 group. unfortunately I think some of the concepts in the particle diagrams section are too difficult. Anyone care to share the answers?

Reviewer: Emma Caine

21st century science

Dec 14th, 2007

5 Star

i am HLTA
just found this site by chance
looks very good
i will comment in detail later but this could be very useful for my college. keep it coming
please try and create more activities for ks4 21st century science.
5 star rating

Reviewer: krishna kaur

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