Science and Health Activities — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Willy Wonka

JerzTheaterMusical Theater Education PacketsCharlie and the Chocolate Factory / Willy Wonka

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Lesson plans for science and health. (See also sections on English literature and writingmathsocial studies [geographyhistoryeconomics], artmusic, and faith connection.)

7.1.) After so much talk of candy-eating and gum-chewing, research teeth, including the formation of cavities & proper dental hygiene. Preteen students might enjoy Laurie Keller’s Open Wide: Tooth School Inside. (Remember: In the 2005 Tim Burton film, Willy Wonka’s father is a dentist.)

As an experiment, take a couple of eggs, and brush one with fluoride paste and/or dunk it in fluoride rinse. Then drop the fluoride-treated egg and the plain egg into clear soda pop; can you see any difference? What if you drop the eggs in sugar-sweetened lemonade or fruit punch (do they become stained?)?

7.2) Research good nutrition.

What is a balanced diet of appropriate daily calorie intake for children? For adults?

How does a diet including too much sugar or fat affect the body? Or over-eating/consuming too many calories? (For younger children, perhaps read and discuss The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food.)

What happens to the body when it suffers malnutrition— or hunger/starvation, as Charlie does due to the Buckets’ poverty?

Use your research on chocolate (from Social Studies) to determine the advantages or disadvantages of eating chocolate. (ex. caffeine or fat as possible disadvantages; antioxidants as possible advantages; how much calcium?)  Check out Terry Graedon & Kit Gruell’s attempt to indulge responsibly, Chocolate Without Guilt.

In Chapter 27, Mr. Wonka describes his Supervitamin Candy, which contains all the vitamins from A-Z, except S (which makes you sick) and H (which makes you grow horns on your head); it even contains a little “vitamin Wonka,” the rarest vitamin in the world, which make your toes grow as long as fingers. Make a list of the vitamins & minerals which actually exist—check a food label on cereal or a real vitamin bottle—and find out how each is good for you, and in which foods each can be found.

7.3) Recalling the Salt family’s nut business, research nuts—especially the peanut. (Elementary students may enjoy reading/hearing Charles Micucci’s The Life and Times of the Peanut, listening to the Civil War-era folksong “Goober Peas” [included in WeeSing America], or researching George Washington Carver, the famous African-American scientist who discovered that peanut plants replenish soil stripped by cotton growth, promoted crop rotation, and developed numerous peanut products/foods.)

7.4 ) Research salt (as recommended in the History section, #5.2). Older students should research it as an element, including its atomic structure, reactivity, and uses.

For younger students:

  • Stir salt into a clear plastic cup of water to demonstrate a “solution;” explain its difference from “suspensions” and “mixtures.” Explain “evaporation,” then leave the salt water cup setting out until the water evaporates, leaving salt crystals behind.
  • Demonstrate how salt changes the boiling point of water. Have a contest between two pots on the stove, one fresh, one salt, set to boil at the same temperature.
  • (Salt raises the boiling point of water about half a degree Celsius for every 30 grams of salt dissolved per kilogram (liter) of water; the more salt dissolved, the higher the boiling point. But salt lowers the melting point of water, so …)
  • Demonstrate how salt changes the melting point of water. Hold a “melting” race between freshwater and saltwater ice cubes.
  • Other topics: Why is salt water unsuitable for humans to drink? List & learn about different salt and freshwater creatures; why don’t they survive in the other type of water?

7.5) Entomology (‘”the study of bugs”) and Entomophagy (“the eating of bugs”):

One reason the Oompa-Loompas willingly move to Mr. Wonka’s chocolate factory is because they hate their usual Loompaland diet of green caterpillars. Research the life cycles and bodily structure of at least two insects, as well as their adaptations for camouflage and defense.

Also research the nutritional content of insects, and which types are most commonly eaten, when & where. WARNING: If you are allergic to shellfish, you shouldn’t eat bugs either!

  • ex.: Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects, by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusia, surveys the bug-eating habits of residents all over the world, grouped by continent, with lots of National Geographic-type pictures.
  • ex: The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, by David George Gordon, provides lots of recipes tested by the author, interspersed with humorous and helpful facts on bug-eating in history, tips (like they’re better to eat without legs & wings), and a chart of the protein content of different insects. Gordon also authored The Compleat Cockroach.

Consider ordering & eating some yourself:

  • Fluker Farms of Port Allen, LA, www.flukerfarms.com , offers gourmet chocolate-covered crickets (incl. an “I Ate a Bug! Club” button), also live crickets, mealworms, etc.. Their website includes three printable ‘Teacher Aids’: a Cricket Biology Guide, a Mealworm Biology Guide, and a Recipe Sheet (with “Chocolate Chirp Cookies”).
  • Hot Lix of Pismo Beach, CA, www.hotlix.com , offers a variety of Insect Candies—cricket, ant, butterfly, plus worms and scorpions—in a variety of flavors. Passing through Dallas-Ft. Worth airport, I found that Natalie’s Candy stocked Cricket Lick-it suckers (in 3-4 flavors) and Larvets— snack-sized boxes of crickets or worms in flavors like sour cream & onion, bacon & cheddar, salt & vinegar, & Mexican spice!
  • Field Trip idea: Check out the Penn State Dept. of Entomology’s annual September “Great Insect Fair,” including an “Insect Deli” serving bug cuisine to the public. (Other such fairs occur throughout the US, according to Gordon’s book index.)

7.6) The Roald Dahl Foundation aids children suffering from epilepsy, blood disorders, and acquired brain injuries. Choose one of these topics to research: the Brain (its structure & function; research epilepsy & one other disease/disorder of the brain), or Blood (its structures & function; research two diseases/blood disorders).

7.7) In Roald Dahl’s book and Tim Burton’s movie, Veruca Salt is declared a bad nut by Mr. Wonka’s squirrels. Research & learn more about squirrels!

7.8) In the 70s-era movie and the stage musical, Veruca runs “a-fowl” of Mr. Wonka’s egg-laying geese. Research geese!  How are they similar/dissimilar to other water fowl? to other popularly-edible birds?

7.9) Although some of these kits receive mixed reviews, consider trying a Make Your Own Gum, Make Your Own Chocolate, or Soda-Pop Chemistry kit with your children/students, and mix a little science with sweet-making.

7.10) Mr. Wonka apparently uses his waterfall for mixing chocolate and his river for travel between rooms– not for powering the factory. Research hydroelectric power from rivers/waterfalls. Where is the hydroelectric plant/dam nearest you? (ex. Connemaugh dam) Consider visiting Niagara Power Vista to learn more about the power as well as the beauty of Niagara Falls.

7.11) Remembering the fate of Augustus Gloop, review tips for playing and swimming safely around pools, and around rivers and bodies of water (lakes, oceans). What should you do if you fall in a river? What are whirlpools, currents, and undertows?

7.12) See also the Inventor/Inventions activities in Social Studies/History #5.3.

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Author: Leigh Jerz
Webmaster: Dennis G. Jerz

17 Sep 2011 — science & health sections posted here

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