help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

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help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

Postby imastudent615 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:22 pm

Hi,
Ok, so for my science fair project, I want to take two different meals that fit the suggested food pyramid (so i'll have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and probably some kind of snack) and see if, when following the food pyramid, the menus are around the same/ around the suggested 2000 calories we are supposed to consume in a day.
I've done some research on different foods to use and have come up with a number of daily menus which have offered some good advice. My problems are in dairy (which all suggest milk, which seems hard to figure out because it's liquid, and cheese, which seems hard to put into my menus) and fruit (i've found rasins and bananas; wouldn't apples/oranges/etc be too juicy?).
Any suggestions you have (for any of the food groups or the project in general) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance :D
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Postby staryl13 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:44 pm

Hi!
Sounds like an great idea. For dairy, skim milk would be a great source of vitamins without any fat intake. Cheese is also extremely healthy. Both of these can be part of your breakfast or snacks. Any fruit would make a nutritious snack or part of a breakfast, even lunch sometimes. Good luck!
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -Isaac Asimov
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Re: help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

Postby Louise » Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:52 pm

imastudent615 wrote:Hi,
Ok, so for my science fair project, I want to take two different meals that fit the suggested food pyramid (so i'll have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and probably some kind of snack) and see if, when following the food pyramid, the menus are around the same/ around the suggested 2000 calories we are supposed to consume in a day.
I've done some research on different foods to use and have come up with a number of daily menus which have offered some good advice. My problems are in dairy (which all suggest milk, which seems hard to figure out because it's liquid, and cheese, which seems hard to put into my menus) and fruit (i've found rasins and bananas; wouldn't apples/oranges/etc be too juicy?).
Any suggestions you have (for any of the food groups or the project in general) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance :D


Link to project:
http://www.sciencebuddies.org/mentoring/project_ideas/Chem_p017.shtml?from=Home

In the sciencebuddies project, the drier the food the better the results. So, there is a constraint that is 'unnatural'.

Some cheeses are quite dry (like parmesean) and would probably work okay. Mostly, I think, people get dairy from either milk or yogurt, both of which won't work in this experiment. You could approximate with dried milk maybe?

Same deal with fruit, you are on the correct track with dried fruit. Most people eat fresh, but the experiment is harder with wet stuff.

What is your hypothesis? I'm not sure what you've proposed is a good science fair project, though it is an interesting topic. I'm sure I could come up with a day of meals that follows the food pyramid yet has vastly more or less calories than 2000. (For example, look up the difference in calories/ounce between an avacado and celery or coconut and watermelon. Within a class there is a wide range of calorie counts.)

There is some great info about how to design a good science fair project here:

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/mentoring/project_guide_index.shtml

Hope this helps!

Louise
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Postby imastudent615 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:46 pm

Louise-
Thank you so much for your advice.
My hypothesis is : If two different combinations of foods from the five major food groups are consumed in the recommended serving amounts, then the daily calorie count will be approximately the same and be around 2000 calories.
I'm not sure what you've proposed is a good science fair project, though it is an interesting topic. I'm sure I could come up with a day of meals that follows the food pyramid yet has vastly more or less calories than 2000. (For example, look up the difference in calories/ounce between an avacado and celery or coconut and watermelon. Within a class there is a wide range of calorie counts.)

i've thought about this and have changed details of my process a couple of times because of this problem. Does my hypothesis make this an okay science fair project? Do you have any ideas on how to fix this problem without changing the food pyramid idea entirely?
Any more help you have would be greatly appreciated.
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Postby Louise » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:05 pm

imastudent615 wrote:Louise-
Thank you so much for your advice.
My hypothesis is : If two different combinations of foods from the five major food groups are consumed in the recommended serving amounts, then the daily calorie count will be approximately the same and be around 2000 calories.
I'm not sure what you've proposed is a good science fair project, though it is an interesting topic. I'm sure I could come up with a day of meals that follows the food pyramid yet has vastly more or less calories than 2000. (For example, look up the difference in calories/ounce between an avacado and celery or coconut and watermelon. Within a class there is a wide range of calorie counts.)

i've thought about this and have changed details of my process a couple of times because of this problem. Does my hypothesis make this an okay science fair project? Do you have any ideas on how to fix this problem without changing the food pyramid idea entirely?
Any more help you have would be greatly appreciated.


Basically, you are testing your hypothesis on two days of meals out of millions of possible choices... this isn't great, since another two days could (would!) give you completely different results. Let me think about this a bit, because off the top of my head, I'm not sure what the best approach is for your project. What grade are you in and what science classes have you had? This info would be helpful for me to evaluate other avenues you could explore.


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Postby imastudent615 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:51 pm

Hmm...yeah that does make sense; but here's what i'm thinking (why this makes sense; but maybe i'm just grasping at straws); the IV- is the different foods within the food group; DV= amount of calories; the constant is the amount of servings (as well as calorimeter, etc). I'm going for having 2 different menus for a day with completely (or as close as possibe) different food and finding whether or not they would be close (not the exact difference) so wouldn't it be more or less the same- either the calories are close or they are far apart because there will be a wide variety of different foods in the menus. Does that make any sense?
to answer your questions- I'm in 10th grade; in 8th grade I took Life Science; 9th was biology; and this year in chemistry.
I'll ask my science teacher tomorrow what he thinks.
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Postby Louise » Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:14 am

imastudent615 wrote:Hmm...yeah that does make sense; but here's what i'm thinking (why this makes sense; but maybe i'm just grasping at straws); the IV- is the different foods within the food group; DV= amount of calories; the constant is the amount of servings (as well as calorimeter, etc). I'm going for having 2 different menus for a day with completely (or as close as possibe) different food and finding whether or not they would be close (not the exact difference) so wouldn't it be more or less the same- either the calories are close or they are far apart because there will be a wide variety of different foods in the menus. Does that make any sense?
to answer your questions- I'm in 10th grade; in 8th grade I took Life Science; 9th was biology; and this year in chemistry.
I'll ask my science teacher tomorrow what he thinks.



The problem is your experiment does not actually test your hypothesis, since your selection of meals is not representative of the food pyramid. With six meals worth of food, you cannot really test a wide variety of foods; there are millions of food and your meals may have 10 items each if you really try hard. Your conclusion can only be that the 2 sets you tested are similar or not similar; you cannot conclude anything about the food pyramid in general. I'll ask around and see if any other experts have some ideas.

Are you interested in the calorimetry project specifically, or nuitrition in general? If you like calorimetry, you could change your hypothesis and keep the same project. [Just a note, the calorimetry project is rated a '7' on the difficultly scale- this may be a little easy for a 10th grader as written]

There are a couple of cool nuitrition related projects.

I like the vitamin C project:
http://www.sciencebuddies.org/mentoring ... ?from=Home

You don't have to use this hypothesis, you could compare vitamin C across different juices, or in different multivitamins, or in the same juice stored different ways. Students on this forum have also done other titrations for different anti-oxidants, but these tend to require more complicated chemicals and equipment. Since you are taking chemistry, your teacher might be able to help you with obtaining chemicals. (For example, one student examined the different levels of anti-oxidants in tea with and with out milk added).

I found this abstract of a project on the web. It sounded pretty interesting:
http://scssi.scetv.org/mims/schools/blhs/science/y99/charl1.htm

Does any of this sound good?

Louise
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Postby imastudent615 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:16 pm

Yeah, I'm definately set on the calorimeter idea, and I don't want to do just a random set of food (like nuts, etc) which is advised in calorimetry project. I like the idea of finding out the calories in the foods because that topic actually interests me, while the nutritional project ideas...don't really hold my interest. Can you think of a better idea on something to find, while still using the calorimeter and food pyramid ideas? Otherwise I think I'll just reword it a bit and use that basic idea.
I talked to my science teacher and he seemed fine with it but said I should reword my title/hypothesis.
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Postby Louise » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:37 pm

imastudent615 wrote:Yeah, I'm definately set on the calorimeter idea, and I don't want to do just a random set of food (like nuts, etc) which is advised in calorimetry project. I like the idea of finding out the calories in the foods because that topic actually interests me, while the nutritional project ideas...don't really hold my interest. Can you think of a better idea on something to find, while still using the calorimeter and food pyramid ideas? Otherwise I think I'll just reword it a bit and use that basic idea.
I talked to my science teacher and he seemed fine with it but said I should reword my title/hypothesis.


Aren't food, calories and the food pyramid all in the category of nuitrition? (You say nuitrition doesn't interest you, but that is what you are doing :D )
I really think correlation to the food pyramid is a bad idea for the reasons we've discussed. I don't see anyway around it; your experiment does not test the hypothesis. You should look up some information about sampling and sample sizes, but two days worth food is not a valid sized sampleto make any conclusions about the food pyramid. I think it would be interesting to study one class of food (like fruits or vegetables) and compare how much energy is in 1 serving or 1 cup or 4 oz or whatever. For example, the example we discussed above coconut vs. watermelon. Someone could follow the food pyramid and eat the 'correct' amount of fruit, but gain a lot of weight because they picked coconut. You could dehydrate the fruit before the experiment, this will make the results more reliable. Your hypothesis could be something like: The higher the water content in fruit, the lower the calories. It still relates to the food pyramid, but it is a more scientific hypothesis. (And you can measure the water content by weighing the sample before and after dehydrating) I've also asked other experts for ideas; hopefully someone will pop in with a brilliant idea, if you don't like anything I've suggested.
If you are excited with this project, and your teacher says it is okay, then go with it! I recommend that you review the material in the science fair guide, which I linked to before. I particularly recommend you review the variables and hypothesis section. Right now, you have a neat technique, but a flawed hypothesis. Please keep us posted about how your research and experimental design is going.


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Re: help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

Postby imastudent615 » Fri Dec 28, 2007 9:01 pm

My science teacher was ok with the project but i can't get any foods to burn (not even ones that should). I was thinking about changing the project (either different brands of the same food or the same brand with different variation (i.e. chips - sour cream and onion; plain; oil and vinger). Do you have any tips on either making the food burn or a new idea (still using the calorimeter)?? thank you soo much.
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Re: help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

Postby Louise » Sat Dec 29, 2007 2:09 pm

imastudent615 wrote:My science teacher was ok with the project but i can't get any foods to burn (not even ones that should). I was thinking about changing the project (either different brands of the same food or the same brand with different variation (i.e. chips - sour cream and onion; plain; oil and vinger). Do you have any tips on either making the food burn or a new idea (still using the calorimeter)?? thank you soo much.



The drier the food, the more easily it will burn. Some things, like fruits might never get really dry. But stale (dry) bread should burn much better than fresh. Just weigh your samples before you dehydrate them. You can probably speed this up by placing them in the oven at 200 F for a few hours. Check often so you don't "preburn" them! Also, if you have small shavings or powder it might burn better. This increases the surface area exposed to oxygen. Be careful though, if you have lots of small shavings they may float around. This can mess up your experiment if you lose mass, and be dangerous if they float around when on fire!

Also, get good matches that you can hold in place for a long time with out burning yourself. You can buy wood matches that are very long for starting fires in the fire place. This will be easier than short carboard ones from a book. They look like this:

http://www.amazon.com/11-Inch-Wood-Matches-Outset-Ct/dp/B0009P83QE/ref=pd_sbs_k_2

You should be able to buy them at a hardware store.

One thing that I was thinking about the other day was cereal. I think cereal should burn okay, but there is whole range of types of cereal. With extra fiber, with extra protein, with extra sugar! And the amount of cereal in terms of volume to equal the same amount of calories is very different. Compare grapenuts (1/2 c= 200 cal) with rice puffs (4 c= 200 cal)!

I hope some of these thoughts help. Good luck.

Louise
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Re: help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

Postby imastudent615 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:07 pm

One thing that I was thinking about the other day was cereal. I think cereal should burn okay, but there is whole range of types of cereal. With extra fiber, with extra protein, with extra sugar! And the amount of cereal in terms of volume to equal the same amount of calories is very different. Compare grapenuts (1/2 c= 200 cal) with rice puffs (4 c= 200 cal)!



That would be a new science fair idea right? Rather than my previous one, I mean. Assuming it is, would that make a better project (since you had expressed problems with my other idea not testing the hypothesis/finding accurate results). So cereal could work; what other foods (just so i have a variety of choices) what about chips? or ritz bits- like with peanut butter and cheese, etc?
Thank you soo much for your help!
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Re: help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

Postby imastudent615 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:34 pm

So, i talked to my mom, and she really likes the cereal idea! I'm going to do that instead of the food pyramid idea. You think that's a better project right? thank you very much for all your help!
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Re: help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

Postby Louise » Sat Dec 29, 2007 5:08 pm

imastudent615 wrote:So, i talked to my mom, and she really likes the cereal idea! I'm going to do that instead of the food pyramid idea. You think that's a better project right? thank you very much for all your help!


Glad you like it. I thought it was related to your other thoughts about potato chips and the different types. I was thinking that potato chips might be too similar, and not have enough variation to measure. I was trying to think of a food that should burn easily. This still relates to your food pyramid idea. People usually just pour a bowl full of cereal. They don't look carefully at what a serving is, or how many calories are in the bowl.

Now that you are thinking about cereal, you should try to develop a hypothesis that is interesting to you and maybe relates back to your other hypothesis/project.


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Re: help on food for calorimeter sci. fair project

Postby imastudent615 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 7:57 pm

Yeah, cereal was definately a good idea. :D I tried a couple of samples that I had lying around the house, and I think I'll find some interesting results. I have a question about getting the results. I tried using the formula on this website, but it doesn't make much sense. I took one cornpuff and did the experiment with it. The water tempt. changed one degree. The mass went from .16 g to .02 . I used 6 oz of water which is around 177.4 g. According to the formula (Q=mc (T).) and according to that, ONE corn puff = 177.4 cal. which doesn't make sense. Am I doing something wrong with the formula? Does the mass play a part in it at all (I was reading another post, and it seems like the answer is no and I don't understand why not- shouldn't the mass affect the temperature change and the number of calories?)?
You have been unbelievably helpful, and any more help you could give would be greatly appreciated.
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