Cloud Cake Science Project
Baking is both an art and a science, so why not use baking to teach science? With this Clouds Cake Science Project from Heather Sanders, a leading homeschooling journalist, kids use icing and cake to design and learn about the different types of cloud formations. This "sweet" lab is so much fun that your children won't even realize that they are in the middle of a weather pattern science lesson. Depending on the age of your children, you can scale this lesson up or down. The older the child, the more detailed the cloud types.
To aid in the learning process, we have included downloadable PDFs at the bottom of the page that detail all of the cloud types. On this full-color print-out each cloud is set and labeled according to its height of cloud base: High-Level Clouds, which form above 20,000 feet; Mid-Level Clouds, which appear between 6500 to 20,000 feet; Low-level Clouds, which generally lie below 6500 feet; and finally, Vertically Developed Clouds, which can grow to heights in excess of 39,000 feet.
We have also included a blank black and white worksheet that you can use to test their knowledge.
- Cloud Icing
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft
- 3 cups sifted Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- 2 prepared 9x13-inch 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)
- 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 to ensure you have enough frosting. To make one batch of frosting, cream butter 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 frosting. 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 frosting. 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 frosting 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!