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Can a science lesson be tasty? When you are using cake and frosting as your teaching tools - you bet! With this Cloud Cake Science Project, students use icing and cake to design and learn about cloud formations. This "sweet" lab is so much fun that your children won’t even realize that they are in the middle of a science lesson. Depending on the age of your children, you can scale this lesson up or down. Elementary students might need just three or four basic cloud types.
- 2 prepared 9x13” cakes (Either made from scratch or box cake mix)
- 2-3 cupcakes (using leftover cake batter)
- 3 batches of buttercream icing (see recipe below)
- Blue food dye (15 drops per batch for “sky blue”)
- 1 piping bag
- Cake decorating tips
- Icing spreader
- Cardstock (for labels)
- Toothpicks (for labels)
- 1 cup white vegetable shortening
- 3 cups sifted Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Bake cakes and cupcakes and place in the freezer for 3-4 hours. Frozen cakes are easier to cut and frost.
- Trim edges of cakes so that you can place them side-by-side. You will frost them together so that you have a longer cake top to work with and more room for clouds.
- Next, prepare icing. You'll want to make in three batches unless you have a stand mixer. To make one batch of icing, cream shortening until light and fluffy. Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until light and creamy. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar alternating with water. Scrape bowl well. Whip until very light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt and combine well.
- Set aside one batch of icing. You will use this for your clouds.
- Tint the remaining frosting with 15 drops of blue food coloring.
- Frost the two cakes together with the blue icing. As you are frosting, discuss how to represent and separate the clouds into their four basic groups - cumulus, stratus, cirrus, and lenticular. Explain how typically, with a few exceptions, each cloud type is found at specific altitudes.
- If your child is right handed, it is best to decorate the cake from left-to-right and then top down. Reverse for left-handed children.
- Starting with the cumulonimbus clouds, cut your cupcakes into small chunks to create a base for these enormous, towering clouds that can stretch a few thousand feet above the ground.
- Do the same for the fluffy, smaller cumulus clouds, which look like piles of cotton in the sky. In fact, the name itself is a Latin word meaning “a pile”.
- Selecting different tips for their effect, use the remaining white icing to make cumulus clouds puffy, cirrus clouds wispy, stratus clouds flat and nondescript, and lenticular clouds more oval, but textural. For the cumulonimbus, cumulus, altocumulus and nimbostratus we used a Wilton Tip #12. For the lenticular, cirrostratus, cirrocumulus, cirrus, altostratus and stratocumulus we used a Wilton Tip #16. For the stratus we used a Wilton Tip #3.
- Once finished creating the icing clouds, create labels for each using cardstock, toothpicks and a glue gun.
- When all clouds have been correctly created and identified, reward yourself for a job well done with a slice of cloud cake!
Science experiment created by Heather Sanders, a leading homeschooling journalist who inspires homeschooling families across the nation.
We used chocolate cake in our example, but any flavor of cake will do. Here are some of our favorite made-from-scratch recipes.
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