Ice Cream Lab

The Science of Ice Cream


Learning Target:

Students will observe the physical phase changes of matter and explain how and why the phase changes are occurring.



Do not eat if you have food allergies to milk products.

Wash your hands with soap and water before and after the lab.

Make sure all measuring tools are clean before using. Do not use measuring tools that have been previously used with chemicals.


Materials Needed:


1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups crushed ice

¾ cup salt

1 sandwich zip-lock bag

1 gallon size zip-lock bag

2 plastic spoons

2 Styrofoam cups



1.  Inside small plastic bag:


1 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

Securely seal the zip-lock bag shut.


2.  Inside large plastic bag:

Fill large bag with 4 cups crushed ice

Measure the temperature of your ice and record in the table below.

Add ¾ cup salt to your ice

Seal the bag and shake the bag so that the ice and salt are evenly mixed.

Measure the temperature of your ice and record in the table below.


3.  Place the small zip-lock bag inside the large zip-lock bag and securely seal shut.

4.  Gently shake for 5-10 minutes or until mixture has an ice cream consistency.

5.  Open the large zip-lock bag.  Remove the small zip-lock bag and rinse.

6.  Place the small zip-lock bag on to paper towel (to prevent dripping water everywhere).

7.  Measure the temperature of your ice and record in the table below.

8.  Divide the contents of the small zip-lock bag evenly into the 2 Styrofoam cups.

9.  Throw the small zip-lock bag into the trashcan.

10. Empty the contents of the large zip-lock bag into the sink and rinse with water. Return the bag to the material’s station.

11. Take your spoon and cup of ice cream and enjoy!


Data and Questions:


When did you measure?

Temperature °C

Did the Temperature change?

Ice Only



Ice + Salt (before)


Up     Down    Same

Ice + Salt (after)


Up     Down    Same


1.     What phase (solid, liquid, gas) was each of the following in before they were mixed?

a.     Milk

b.     Sugar

c.      Vanilla

d.     Ice

e.     Salt

2.     Describe the types of phase changes that occurred and how these changes happened. Include information from your notes (temperature, movement of particles, etc.)

3.     What is the freezing point of water?

4.     Describe how your temperature changed throughout the activity. 

5.     How does adding salt to your water or ice change it’s freezing/melting point?

6.     When could you use the information learned in this lesson in the real world?