How Greasy Are Your Potato Chips?
|Time Required||Very Short (≤ 1 day)|
|Material Availability||Readily available|
|Cost||Very Low (under $20)|
AbstractOne of America's favorite snacks is potato chips. Although potato chips are very tasty, some varieties are not very healthy for you. A typical 1-ounce (oz.) serving of a well-known national potato chip brand contains 150 calories, 90 of which are from fat. How greasy are your favorite potato chips? Try this science fair project, and you'll get a visual understanding about how much oil a potato chip can hold.
To compare the greasiness of several varieties of potato chips.
Michelle Maranowski, PhD, Science Buddies
Cite This PageGeneral citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.
Last edit date: 2017-07-28
Do you like to snack? Most people enjoy having a snack between lunch and dinner. One of the more popular snacks is potato chips. Potato chips come in a variety of tasty flavors, including salt and vinegar, jalapeno, and barbecue. It takes 10,000 pounds (lbs.) of potatoes, to make 3,500 lbs. of potato chips. The average person eats about 6 lbs. of potato chips a year.
It's actually pretty easy to make a potato chip from a potato. Simply cut the potato into thin slices, fry them in a deep fryer, drain the grease, and add salt. Some potato chips are not really potato chips at all. PringlesTM are an example of this. Pringles are made from potato flakes that are combined with rice flour to make potato dough. The dough is then shaped and fried. Since Pringles are not made only of potatoes, they are called potato crisps.
One thing that some people think about when buying potato chips and potato crisps is the amount of fat in them. Although eating fats is necessary for your body to function, eating too much fat is not good for you. Children older than 2 years old should get 30 percent of their daily calories from fat. Many people get more than that, which is why there are many kinds of reduced fat potato chips and potato crisps available in stores. In this cooking and food science fair project, you will investigate how much fat is in some typical potato chips and potato crisps products. You will take a look at four different kinds of chips and crisps: kettle-fried potato chips, baked potato chips, Pringles Original potato crisps, and Pringles Reduced Fat potato crisps. Have fun, but be sure not to not eat your science fair project before you are done!
Terms and Concepts
- Can you estimate how many chips you and your friends eat in one week?
- What is the difference between a potato chip and a potato crisp?
- What is fat? Should people get rid of all the fat they eat?
- Kleiman, D. (1990, May 23). My Chip is Better than Your Chip. The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2008, from http://query.nytimes.com
- Kidshealth.org. (2008). Learning About Fats. Retrieved October 27, 2008, from http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/food/fat.html
For help creating graphs, try this website:
- National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Create a Graph. Retrieved November 12, 2008, from http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/CreateAGraph/default.aspx
News Feed on This Topic
Materials and Equipment
- Clean table
- Graph paper
- Clear tape
- Four varieties of potato chips and crisps. Use the following: kettle chips; baked chips, such as baked Lays®; Pringles; and Reduced Fat Pringles.
- Digital kitchen scale
- Wax paper
- Rolling pin
- Lab notebook
Remember Your Display Board Supplies
Poster Making Kit
ArtSkills Trifold with Header
- To start this science fair project, lay two pieces of graph paper together on the table. Try to match up the squares as best you can. Tape the pieces of graph paper together. Turn the graph paper over.
- Open the first bag of potato chips. Lay a piece of wax paper on the scale. Turn on the scale and place a handful of potato chips on the scale. Weigh the potato chips. Record the weight of the potato chips in your lab notebook. You should try to have between 0.5 oz. and 1 oz. of potato chips, so either add or remove some if your handful of chips isn't within that range.
- Now take the potato chips and mound them in the middle of the graph paper. Place a piece of clean wax paper on top of the chips. The wax paper should be about the same size as the graph paper.
- Carefully press down on the wax paper and crush the potato chips. Try to keep all of the potato chips and pieces in the center of the paper. Use the rolling pin to crush the chips into small pieces.
- Let the potato chips sit on the paper for 1 minute. After 1 minute has passed, put the wax paper and the potato chips into the trash. Try to remove all of the extra bits from the graph paper, too. Do you notice a grease stain on the graph paper? Tape the paper to a well-lit window so that you can see the stain clearly.
- Repeat steps 1-5 two more times so that you have a total of three trials for this bag of potato chips. Use the same weight of potato chips for each trial. Also, use new graph paper and fresh wax paper on the scale and on top of the potato chips. Let the stains hang on the window for 10 more minutes. Record your observations about the size of the grease stains in your lab notebook in a data table, like the one below. Count how many squares are covered in grease. You should also count squares that are only partially stained. Remember to record all of your data in your lab notebook. It is important to repeat experiments so you gather plenty of information.
- Repeat steps 1-6 for the other three varieties of potato chips and potato crisps. Be sure that you use the same weight of potato chips for all of the varieties. Also, use new graph paper and fresh wax paper on the scale and on top of the potato chips or potato crisps. Remember to record all of your data in your lab notebook.
- In your lab notebook, record the amount of fat per serving for each potato chip or potato crisp. This information is located either on the side or on the back of the bags or canisters. How does this information compare with the size of the grease stains?
- Plot your data. Label the x-axis Potato Chip Variety and Label the y-axis Size of Grease Stain. If you need help plotting, or would like to make your plots online, you can visit the following website: Create a Graph.
|Variety of Potato Chip||Fat per Serving||Observations/ Number of Squares Covered with Grease|
Communicating Your Results: Start Planning Your Display BoardCreate an award-winning display board with tips and design ideas from the experts at ArtSkills.
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Dietitian or NutritionistEver wondered who plans the school lunch, food for patients at a hospital, or the meals for athletes at the Olympics? The answer is dietitians and nutritionists! A dietitian or nutritionist's job is to supervise the planning and preparation of meals to ensure that people—like students, patients, and athletes—are getting the right foods to make them as healthy and as strong as possible. Some dietitians and nutritionists also work to educate people about good food choices so they can cook and eat their own healthy meals. Read more
Food Scientist or TechnologistThere is a fraction of the world's population that doesn't have enough to eat or doesn't have access to food that is nutritionally rich. Food scientists or technologists work to find new sources of food that have the right nutrition levels and that are safe for human consumption. In fact, our nation's food supply depends on food scientists and technologists that test and develop foods that meet and exceed government food safety standards. If you are interested in combining biology, chemistry, and the knowledge that you are helping people, then a career as a food scientist or technologist could be a great choice for you! Read more
Food Science TechnicianGood taste, texture, quality, and safety are all very important in the food industry. Food science technicians test and catalog the physical and chemical properties of food to help ensure these aspects. Read more
- Try doing this science fair project with several kinds of snack foods, such as pork cracklings, corn chips, and crackers.
- With the help of an adult, try making your own potato chips. Are they more or less greasy than the store-bought ones? Can you find ways to make them less greasy?
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity