Have you ever sliced an apple, only to find it has quickly turned brown? In this apple experiment, kids will observe how different liquids effect the process of apple browning. Practicing science is fun and hands on with this classic science experiment!
If you are learning about science with your kids, simple science experiments are a fun way to practice the scientific method. One of the best ways to test out a hypothesis is through a hands on exploration.
In this apple science experiment, kids will learn about the process of oxidation. Depending on the age of your kids, you can modify how much of this experiment they set up and run on their own.
A great activity to go along with this is to do an apple dissection with your kids to learn about the different parts of an apple. If you are looking for ways to explore apples with your kids, check these additional apple activities for kids.
The great thing about experimenting with kids is that you can take a lesson and modify it to fit your needs. If your child is practicing identifying variables and designing an experiment, they can be in charge of that part. While for younger kids, you can provided a more guided approach.
When doing this with elementary aged kids, you can have them pick the liquids, help cut up the apples, and run the timer. Younger kids can make observations, pour liquids, and drop the apple slices into the different containers.
Kids of all ages love having jobs, especially when running an experiment. Before you begin, decide who will be in charge of each task. Don't forget about clean up! Kids can be in charge of putting back supplies or washing containers.
Why Do Apple Slices Turn Brown After being Cut?
Apple oxidation, commonly called browning, happens after an apple is sliced or damaged. Various liquids can be used to slow down apple browning.
The basic gist behind all of the fancy science is:
- An apple is sliced
- Once exposed to air the apple changes
- As a result the apple turns brown
- You can slow down the process by coating the apple with different liquids
If you are doing this apple experiment with young children that will be enough of an explanation. However, a description of the process along with vocab terms if doing this with older children can be found later on in the post.
Recommended Age Range
- Middle School
If I was going off of the description above I would say, middle school aged kids. But honestly, young kids even preschoolers will enjoy this experiment.
What is great about this science experiment is that you can tailor it to fit your child's needs. Remember, you do not need to explain all of the fancy scientific concepts that are found later on in the post.
Apple Oxidation Experiment Worksheets
Lab sheets are great for elementary and middle school aged kids. Young children including kindergartners will benefit from recording observations without filling out the worksheet.
My toddler and I simply discussed the changes we were seeing along with the different liquids we used. The lemon and the orange were a big hit!
There is also a guided version of the worksheet available for download as well. This version has some of the parts filled out for your child.
Directions for how to access the downloadable free printable worksheets is found at the bottom of this post.
Before beginning this experiment you will want to gather a few supplies. First make sure you have apples! Depending on how many kids are doing this experiment will determine the amount of apples you need.
One apple is more than enough if you are doing it at your house with your kids. If trying this out with a larger group, I would plan on having a few apples. I try to not be wasteful with food, so I sliced the apples very thinly.
Before doing the experiment with your kids, I would go over the directions, fill out the lab sheet, and talk about what you will be doing. Then begin the experiment with your kids.
Often times kids are so excited to get started that they miss out on practicing important science skills such as identifying variables and making a hypothesis.
Slicing the Apples
You will also need a safe way to cut the slices using either a knife or apple corer. I used a knife with a cutting board.
Picking Out the Different Liquids
For this apple experiment, your kids will be testing out different solutions to see how well they prevent browning of the apple pieces. Pick out the different liquid substances before beginning this science project. You will also need containers to hold the liquids, I used small glass Pyrex containers.
After the materials list below, I give you a few recommendations for liquids. These were selected after researching the science behind the chemical reaction. As you can see from the image above, I used salt water, apple cider vinegar, freshly squeezed orange and lemon juices, and plain water.
- 1 Apple
- 1 Container per Liquid
- 1 Lid per Liquid
- 1 Toothpick per Liquid
- 1 Knife or Apple Corer
- Cutting Board
- 4 or More Liquids
- Water (Control)
- Flat Work Surface
- Recording Sheet
|Salt Water||Fresh Orange Juice|
|Vinegar||Fresh Lemon Juice|
|Apple Cider Vinegar||Fresh Grapefruit Juice|
|Milk||Baking Soda and Water|
All of these directions can be found on the downloadable lab sheet. Even if you do not use the sheet with your kids, it may be helpful to have printed directions.
- Gather supplies and pick out your liquids
- Set out one container per liquid on a table.
- In front of the container place a lid (this will hold the apple slice)
- Add labels in front of each lid with the name of the liquid or place the main container of the liquid behind the set up. You want to easily see which liquid was used for each slice.
- Add a small amount of each liquid into each of the containers. Enough liquid to coat the slice once it is placed in the liquid.
- Prepare your apple slices using a knife or apple corer. *Always use adult supervision!
- Add one apple slice into each of the liquids. Set the timer for 1 minute. Remove the apple slices from the liquids using a toothpick. Place slices onto the lids.
- Reset the timer for the next length of time then make your observation.
- Record observations for one minute, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and 40 minutes.
- Compare your final results after 40 minutes to the control. Record which liquid prevented the apple slice from browning the most.
- Clean up the experiment. Then write your analysis and conclusion.
If you do not have lids available, parchment paper can be used. I would not recommend placing wet apples directly onto a paper towel because the liquid can saturate the towel.
You can use more than four liquids, just make sure to plan one lid and glass container per liquid. Water will be the control which also needs a lid and container.
When I ran this experiment with my child, we used plain water as the control apple. However, I noticed the apple left out without being dipped into the water showed more signs of browning.
I recommend leaving a slice out on the table that never is dipped into a liquid. Kids can compare the results to that apple as well!
The Science Behind Apple Browning
Now the fun part, the science behind why apples turn brown. Depending on the age of your child will determine how in depth you want to explain this process. I broke up the vocab terms into simple, basic, and complex.
However, you can do this fun science project without explaining all of the fancy science terms! I included them in case you want to go that route with your kids. Some kids love knowing the why behind what they are seeing.
Simple Vocab Terms
- apple or fruit
- guess or hypothesis
Basic Vocab Terms
|chemical reaction||control group|
Complex Vocab Terms and Concepts
When apples turn brown, they are undergoing a chemical change as the slices are exposed to air. Apple cells contain enzymes called polyphenol oxidase.
Once oxygen is introduced a chemical reaction takes place. The enzymes oxidize compounds called phenolic compounds that are in the apple.
Phenolic compounds are interesting because they have antioxidant properties. The by product of this enzymatic reaction is the apple turning brown. (source)
Phew, that is some fancy science!
If you happen to have older kids, they could also do this experiment along with researching the complex vocab terms.
If you are interested in learning more about the science this article also has some great information about apple oxidation. It includes information about why some liquids work better than others to prevent browning.
More Apple Activities and Project Ideas
The best thing about practicing science with kids is tapping into their natural gift of curiosity. Kids come up with the best ideas as they question how the world works. Use one or all of these lesson extensions to explore more about apples with your kids.
Always make sure to have a control group so that you are conducting a true science experiment. Plan out the experiment using the scientific method before beginning.
Comparing Different Varieties of Apples
It would be so much fun for kids to test out different kinds of apples. They can use the best liquid found from this experiment. This is a great way to test out how well it works at keeping different kinds of apples from turning brown. After doing the initial experiment your kids may wonder if the kind of apple will effect the browning process.
Storing in a Plastic Bag vs No Bag
Many stores sell pre-sliced apples in plastic bags. With this fun experiment, have your kids test to see how apples placed in Ziploc bags compare to ones being left out in the open.
For a fun variation, kids can test to see if flattened out bags with most of the air removed will effect browning. They can compare the results of flattened bags to ones having a large amount of air left inside.
Other Browning Fruits
Conduct an easy experiment similar to the apple science experiment. Have your kids brainstorm then pick out a few other fruits that also brown once sliced.
If they are not sure if any other fruits change color they can do a science project where they slice a variety of fruits and observe the changes in color.
Then they can test out different liquids and record the results. It would be fun to see if the same liquids had similar results for different fruits.
Classic science experiments are so much fun to do with kids. If you try out this experiment, come back and leave a comment. I would love to know which liquids your kids tested and their results!
These worksheets were created by Nature Inspired Learning and are for personal use only for your home or classroom. They are designed to be a tool that can be used for early learning success. All of these apple experiment worksheets are for non-commercial use. Have questions, send me an email at julie (at) natureinspiredlearning (dot) com