As Ms. Kuehnle’s 6-8 Team students are nearing the end of their social studies unit on Ancient Egypt, she presented them with a theme-related STEM challenge.
Ancient Egypt is known for, among other things, mummies. The ancient Egyptians believed the physical body is important in the next life. Thus, they used mummification to preserve the bodies of people and even animals. Part of the mummification process included removing the organs and putting them in canopic jars containing natron, a naturally occurring compound of sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate (salt and baking soda).
The students were challenged to test various mixtures to determine which worked best in preserving apple slices in jars. Working in teams, they placed apple slices in jars with the following solutions: vinegar and sugar; vinegar and baking soda; vinegar and salt; and no solution at all as the control group. Over the next four days, the students observed and recorded changes in the apple slices such color, size, texture, etc.