Molecular gastronomy in the chemistry classroom

(published on Science in School, issue 36, 26/05/2016 by TEMI Germany team: J. Dittmar, C. Zowada. S. Yamashita, I. Eilks)

Molecular gastronomy is a new trend in haute cuisine, with chefs providing their guests with novel and strange culinary experiences using liquid nitrogen, gels and foams. One of the techniques that is becoming more well known is the use of alginate spheres containing different fruit juices or flavours. Even if you don’t frequent Michelin-starred restaurants, you may have come across these spheres in bubble tea.

Bubble tea, originally invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, spilled over from Eastern Asia to Western countries some years ago. It consists of a tea-based drink that also contains fruit jellies, tapioca or alginate spheres, filled with fruit juice or syrup.

Making and examining the behaviour of alginate bubbles can be fascinating and can be used in inquiry-based learning in the sciences.

In this article, we suggest how alginate bubbles can be used to teach various scientific concepts, presenting scientific phenomena in an aesthetic fashion. We introduce how to make alginate bubbles and present three example experiments, each of which can be performed in a one-hour lesson: an acid-base reaction, chemo-luminescence with redox chemistry, and thermal convection with a thermochromic effect.

Read the full article here.