Advanced Environmental and Earth Sciences Teacher Guide


Teacher manual for Advanced Environmental and Earth Sciences labs. Has both the printed version and a flash drive with teacher tips, a PDF of teacher version and editable Word student version.

Energy Content of Food

Lab Summary

Use a fast response temperature sensor to investigate and compare the energy content of four different food items: marshmallow, popcorn, peanut, and cashew.


Students investigate and compare the energy content of energy-rich substances (foods) to determine:

  • How much energy is stored in some common food items.
  • What type of food contains the most concentrated amounts of energy.


Students measure the energy released from different types of foods by oxidative combustion (burning) through energy transfer into water in a closed container (calorimeter). From this they:

  • Calculate the amount of heat released from the food item based on the change in temperature of the water in the calorimeter.
  • Calculate the total amount of energy stored in each piece of food.

Sensors / Equipment Used:

Advanced Water Quality Sensor


MultiMeasure sensor that incorporates pH, conductivity, temperature, and the optical dissolved oxygen probe.

Materials Used:

Aluminum pie pan 4
Aluminum soda can 4
Cardboard box, large 1
Electronic balance - 1 per class
Food samples: marshmallow, popcorn, peanuts, cashew - 1 each
Graduated cylinder, 100 mL 
Large base and support rod 
Marking pen 
One-hole rubber stopper, ~1 1/2"
top diameter - 4
Paperclip, large - 5
Plastic straw 
Rod and clamp 
Tape - 1 roll
Water - 200 mL
Wooden matches (or starter wand) - Several

The Associated Bundle:

Advanced Environmental and Earth Science Standard Sensor Bundle


Standard bundle for Advanced Environmental and Earth Sciences Teacher Guide,

Interface Required

This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.