Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peep Science

Being Spring Break in Michigan, today was a great day to hold one of our Mad Scientist programs.  Normally, I raid my favorite STEM librarian's blogs, but I actually had an idea for this one-Peep Science!  

For our program, we registered 20 kids ages 7-12.  I like to set my programs up as stations.  While this means that there is prep work, I can enjoy the program and ask fun questions instead of leading it.  As each kid came into the room, they got the handout, a pencil, and their yellow bunny Peep.

Supply List
  • 2 2-liter bottles of Sprite
  • Lots of Peeps in various colors
  • 5 bags of mini marshmallows
  • 5 boxes of spaghetti (probably only need 3 or so)
  • Pencils
  • Crayons in Peep colors and for color mixing
  • 2 marshmallow mashers
  • Handout
  • Rulers
  • Disposable bowls
  • Ice cubes 

Station 1: Observation
I put out the rulers and yellow crayons.  The kids were asked the following:
  • What does your Peep look like?  Draw it in the box on the handout.
  • How big is your Peep?
  • What does it feel like?

Station 2: The Freezer
I froze a box of Peeps for 1 day before the program.  I put the frozen Peeps in a bowl at a couple of spots along the table along with an ice cube.  Kids were asked the following:
  • How do the Peeps at this station compare to your Peep?
  • Are they the same size?
  • What do they feel like?
Since most of us probably haven't frozen Peeps before, they really don't freeze.  They are cold and a little hard, but are still pretty spongy.  This is why I put the ice cubes out at the station too.  This gave us a starting point for talking about frozen things.

Station 3: The Masher
The original idea at this station was to put Peep bunny ears into the masher and watch them shrink.  I don't know why (but I suspect it is due to the sugar coating), but Peeps don't shrink in the masher.  Luckily we had mini marshmallows for another station and we used those instead.  If you put a mini marshmallow into the masher and pump it, it will get wrinkly and look similar to a raisin.  The kids were asked the following at this station:
  • What happens to the Peep in the masher?
  • Why do you think this happened?
  • Draw your Peep in the masher.
My favorite question to ask at this station was, "If the marshmallow shrinks when we take all of the air out of it, what do you think one of the main ingredients in marshmallows are?"  From my personal past experience of making marshmallows at home, air is one of the key ingredients in marshmallows.  You have to run the mixture on your mixer for 20 minutes to add enough air.

Station 4: Color Mixing Peeps
For this station I cut a bunch of blue, pink, and yellow Peeps in half.  There were a number of bowls filled with Sprite and kids were asked to add two different colored Peeps to the bowls. I asked two questions at this station:
  • What happens when you put two different colored peeps in a bowl of Sprite?
  • What color combinations did you find?
This was a lot of fun and the kids really got into it.  Some of the really thoughtful kids would add two of one color and one of another to make the color even stronger.

blue + yellow = green

Station 5: Building with My Peeps
This station started off as a time filler, but this station could have been the whole program.  I put out spaghetti noodles and mini marshmallows and asked kids to build the tallest structure possible.  My only rule was that it had to stay steady for 10 seconds.  Here are some of the creations:

What I found really neat was that many of the families were going to the store after the program to pick up more spaghetti and marshmallows to build their own structures at home.

This program was a giant hit.  Whether they were measuring, building, or mixing, there were a lot of great conversations going on between the kids and the adults who stayed in the room.  I don't know if they were just really bored from Spring Break or what, but I got a couple of "This was the best program ever!"

After the Post
Peep science became such a big hit in libraryland online that we are declaring April 9, 2015 National Peep Science Day.


  1. This is a fantastic idea! I have a science program coming up at the end of April, and I wasn't sure what to do. Well, I've found it! Thank you for your detailed descriptions and pictures. I can see why your kids loved it!

  2. I have mashed Peeps with the "masher" before. It helps to put a bunch of them in the bottle and then mark the level with a rubber band so you can see that they really have compressed.


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