Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - States of Matter

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl provides a good context to learn about states of matter. This children's classic starts with Willy Wonka, the reclusive and eccentric chocolate maker opening his doors to five lucky members of the public – all they must do is find a Golden Ticket in their Wonka chocolate bars. Charlie Bucket, along with his unworthy fellow winners Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Augustus Gloop, step through the factory gates to discover a world of chocolate rivers, boiled-sweet boats, magic chewing gum, square sweets that look round and Oompa-Loompas. Life will never be the same again. ​This book is a good setting through which children might:

  • compare and group materials together, according to whether they are solids, liquids or gases 
  • observe that some materials change state when they are heated or cooled, and measure or research the temperature at which this happens in degrees Celsius (°C) 
  • identify the part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle and associate the rate of evaporation with temperature.

Key scientific vocabulary: states of matter,solid,liquid,gas, change state, ice/water/steam,water vapour, heated/heating, cooled/cooling,temperature, degrees celsius, melt, freeze, solidify,boil​, evaporate/evaporation, condense/condensation

Other fiction books with a similar theme include:  The Snow Queen – Hans Christian Anderson and   Bartholomew and the Oobleck - Dr Seuss.

Links and Resources

At what temperature does chocolate melt?

A resource published by the Brian Cox for the Royal Society. The children conduct a fair test to see if different types of chocolate melt at the same temperature?  Plain, milk and white chocolate have different percentages of cocoa solids, which gives it a different chemical makeup. Different brands of chocolate also have different amounts of cocoa solids. Does this affect its melting point? This resource includes a series of videos and lesson plans.

The children could think about what is needed to make the chocolate melt. They could then investigate how other food solids behave when they are made hotter? Does all food melt?What happens when they cool down again? What changes do they see?

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Understanding Reversible Change

Through the heart of Willy Wonka's factory flows a  river of melted chocolate. In this video we see a master Chocolatier who discusses his job and how he creates chocolates. He also talks about what he enjoyed at school and why he chose his career. The children could consider how the chocolatier works scientifically each day in his job? Which skills is he using?

This is a great example of a reversible change. Children could watch the video and then use the film to create their own chocolate cycle solid - melt - solid. They should identify the factors which cause a chocolate melt or to become solid. The children could experiment, creating their own chocolates and perhaps sell them in an enterprise project.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Solids, Liquids & Gases

A highly useful set of animated cartoons exploring the solids, liquids and gases. Children often think that a solid cannot change its shape, this animation shows that if you apply a force to a solid it can change its shape. The animations also look at changing solids through melting and dissolving, changing liquids through heating or freezing;  reversible and irreversible changes.

As the children read Charlie and the Chocolate factory they could make lists of all the different things that Willy Wonka makes in his factory and classify them using a Venn diagram. Some of his inventions may fall into two cateorgories - such as the fizzy lifting drinks or the Chewing Gum meals....

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Biscuit Bashing

This short film for teachers by the Royal Society of Chemistry demonstrates a simple activity where chidren consider the properties of a solid. We often teach children that solids are hard objects that keep their shape. This is true for many solids however there are lots of solids which behave differently.  For example sand, salt, sugar   are  made of lots of small granules which when en masse can be poured and take the shape of whatever they are put into.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Mixing and Dissolving Materials

Within this resource there is some material on dissolving. Willy Wonka uses sugar in almost all of his creations. Children could investigate how sugar dissolves. They could select the variable they would like to test and then share their results with the class. For example the could investigate either the type of sugar - brown or white. The particle size - icing, caster or granulated. The temperature of the water.  Children should look for patterns and develop explanations of how sugar behaves in water.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Food for thought: food science

Who is a fan of fizzy drinks and sizzling sherbet?  What is it about these things that makes them fizz and bubble?  Have a go at making your own fizz and find out more about the science behind it. Sherbet powder is made from sugar, citric acid and bicarbonate of soda.  When does sherbet powder fizz?  Is the ‘fizz’ the same as in fizzy drinks?

Also see this article  exploring popping candy.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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