Science at the campfire: The science of roasting marshmallows!

Add a little science education into your summer evening campfire discussion!

Learning about science may not sound like fun at first, but if you look at the world around you, it is clear to see that science education can actually be fun!  For example, while at your summer evening campfire, rather than sharing ghost stories, try to spark some science learning with the kids (and adults too!) by asking some pointed questions.  TaylorFabus_MarshmallowMichigan State University Extension recommends using the science behind roasting marshmallows as a great way to incorporate science education.  Here are some questions that you can ask as well as links to help answer the questions:

  • Why do marshmallows burn (or catch on fire) so easily?
  • Does the metal catch on fire similarly?
    • Why or why not?
  • Does the wooden stick catch on fire similarly?
    • Why or why not?
  • Why do marshmallows puff when you roast them?
    • Does this represent a chemical or physical change?

Asking questions like this are one way to introduce the Experiential Learning Model, which is the act of combining activities with questions to help youth learn. Something important to remember; you do not need to be a science expert in order to teach or to even get a child excited about learning.  If you encounter a question that you do not know the answer to, have youth help you look up the answer (another opportunity for even more learning!), at or by contacting your MSU Extension office and they will be able to point you in the right direction.

To help answer the questions, check out these articles:

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