A Different Kind of Chocolate Lab
by Bethan Sian England, Sarah Jayne Moore, Sarah Catherine Morris, Samantha Louise Sear, and Louise Victoria Treen
What do science and eating lots of chocolate have in common? Everything! That is, if you’re inventing chocolate that won’t melt when soldiers carry it through the desert.
We’ve always been interested in science. But last year, our interest was sparked even more when we entered our investigation of the lack of calcium in our diets into a national science competition. When we spoke to a dietician in our local hospital, she said that the decrease of calcium in kids’ diets could lead to serious health problems for us all in the future. Our research and experiments earned us first place in the competition!
Spurred on by our success, we decided to give the competition another try this year, when the rules required projects to have a “link with industry.” Our school is near a chocolate factory, so we chose to do a project that had something to do with chocolate.
Our initial research involved a visit to the factory and lots of free samples. (That was rough!) Following our visit, we began researching the science of chocolate. We never knew that it took so much time to get it “just right.” While researching, we found a newspaper article about how the troops in Iraq were desperate for a non-melting bar. Scientists had failed to make a heat-resistant chocolate bar, so we decided to rise to the challenge!
Lots of experimental work followed because first we had to understand how to make chocolate before changing it to stop it from melting. We contacted all the major chocolate manufacturers in Britain. They told us that the European Union requires chocolate to have a certain amount of fat to be legally called chocolate. But we found that this fat content is what makes chocolate bars melt so easily.
This didn’t put us off! We worked every lunch hour for more than a year, researching and testing to produce our “prototype.” We searched for hours on the Internet trying to find information about increasing the melting point of chocolate. Eventually, we found an article about a patent on “non-melting” chocolate, which involved adding glycerine (an ingredient in bombs, soap, and other things) to melted chocolate. We tried it, and we were successful – the chocolate didn’t melt at 53° Celsius (97° Fahrenheit), which made it work in the desert!
At the national competition in London, the judges tasted our “Blokochoc” – “chocolate which does melt in your mouth but not in Iraq.” They were so impressed that we won a CREST (Creativity in Science and Technology) first prize!
Since then, the press has taken up our story, and we have given interviews on all the major U.K. radio networks and TV news programs. We’re stars!!! It’s been fantastic publicity for our school, and we’ve had the best time proving that science can be fun and taste good.
Sarah Jayne Moore, Sarah Catherine Morris, Louise Victoria Treen, Bethan Sian England, and Samantha Louise Sear are 15-year-old girls who attend Afon Taf high school in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales Valleys, United Kingdom.
© 2004 New Moon® Publishing , New Moon®: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams, Duluth MN.
Content last reviewed May 15, 2008
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