Show students how the sugar content in fruit changes as it ripens or determine how much sugar is contained in every day foods with classroom experiments. These experiments can also contribute to lessons about how sugar affects the diet and dental health. Some experiments will require a refractometer from the school's science department or a glucose meter but most don't take much time.
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This experiment uses a refractometer to show how the content of sugar changes as fruit ripens. For this experiment, use bananas as they ripen. Get five unripe bananas all as close to the same size as possible. Take one unripe banana and cut off 7.5 cm (3 inches) and mash the banana. Place the mashed banana in cheesecloth then strain the banana through the cheesecloth on to the refractometer lens. The meter measures the banana's sugar content. On day two take another banana and repeat the process. Repeat this process on day four, day six and, day eight, using a different banana each time. Record all readings in a lab journal to chart the differences.
Sugar in drinks
This experiment shows the sugar content in beverages or a comparison of sugar to caffeine. First, choose a variety of soft drink and juices to test. You will need a refractometer again. For caffeine comparison choose caffeinated and caffeine-free beverages. Refrigerate the liquids for at least 15 minutes. Take the beverage out and take a dropper and fill the dropper with the liquid. Drop the liquid on to the refractometer and get the measurement of sugar content. Write down all numbers in a lab notebook. Repeat this again with the same beverage at least once more to ensure the numbers add up. Then, repeat this process for each of the drinks you have chosen.
Pick a variety of different foods to test for glucose concentration, such as honey, fruits, salad dressing, baby food and peanut butter. Dilute honey with water by taking 15 ml (1 tbsp) of honey and combining it with 150 ml (5 fl oz) of water. Mash the fruits and strain them through cheesecloth to extract the juice and then pour the liquid into a cup. Take a glucose test strip and dip the strip into the liquid -- once it's wet start a stopwatch and time it for 30 seconds. Take the strip out and compare it to the chart on the glucose strip box to get the value. Repeat for all other foods and chart your numbers as you test. If the honey was used, take the number from the chart and multiply it by 10 to compensate for dilution.
Apple sugar levels
This experiment compares different kinds of apples and their sugar content. Use Granny Smiths, Braeburns, Golden Delicious and Russet apples. Cut and mash the apples and squeeze the chunks through cheesecloth over the refractometer lens until liquid drops on to the lens. Write down the readings.
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