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The Perfect Kool-Aid Concentration (4 Favorites)

LAB in Mixtures, Solubility, Percent Composition, Concentration, Solute & Solvent. Last updated November 5, 2018.


Summary

In this lab, the students will investigate how the concentration of a solution affects its properties such as color and taste.

Grade Level

Middle school

Objectives

By the end of this lab, students should be able to

  • understand the terms: solution, solute, solvent, dilute, concentrated, unsaturated, and saturated.
  • observe the effects of changing the amount of solute on properties such as color and taste of the solution.

Chemistry Topics

  • Solutions
  • Concentration
  • Solute
  • Solvent

Time

Teacher Preparation: 30 minutes

Lesson: 60 minutes

Materials

  • Kool-Aid powder (one large container per lab group)
  • Water
  • Large disposable plastic cups (for mixing the Kool-Aid)
  • Small plastic cups (four per student group)
  • Dixie cups (one per student)
  • Popsicle sticks (to stir solutions)
  • Electronic scale or balance scale
  • ½ cup measuring cups

Safety

  • Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
  • Students should wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
  • When students complete the lab, instruct them how to clean up their materials and dispose of the cups.
  • Since students will consume the Kool-Aid, conduct this experiment outside of a lab setting and do not measure any ingredients with glassware from the lab
  • Stress that drinking solutions in the lab is normally not allowed.

Teacher Notes

  • For motivational purposes, the students could watch this old Kool-Aid television commercial.
  • The teacher should review the terms: solution, solute, solvent, dilute, concentrated, unsaturated, and saturated.
  • Do not use lab equipment (graduated cylinder) to complete measurements of items that will be consumed by students.
  • Remind students that solutions made in a laboratory experiment are not normally consumed.
  • The activity could be extended by having the students find the saturation point for various temperatures of water.
  • For interest, the students could watch the video that explains if the Kool-Aid man could really burst through a wall.

For the Student

Lesson

Background

You will be making four solutions of Kool-Aid with different concentrations of solute. You will taste the solutions to decide which one is the “correct” concentration. You will later use your data from this lab to calculate the percent concentration, by mass, of each solution and determine the best tasting concentration of Kool-Aid.

Materials

  • Kool-Aid powder
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Water
  • Scale
  • Small plastic cups
  • Large plastic cups
  • Dixie cups
  • Measuring cups

Safety

  • Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
  • Follow your teacher’s instructions for how to clean up your materials and dispose of the cups.
  • Do not measure any ingredients with glassware from the lab

Procedure

  1. Measure the mass of the large plastic cup, and record it in your data table.
  2. Measure ½ cup of water using the measuring cups. Pour the water into the large plastic cup.
  3. Measure 3 grams of Kool-Aid in a small plastic cup by putting your cup on the balance, setting the mass to zero, and adding powder until it reaches the correct mass of Kool-Aid mix into the cup. Record the exact mass from the balance in the data table below.
  4. Add the Kool-Aid powder into the large plastic cup of water. Stir the solution with the popsicle stick until all of the Kool-Aid powder has dissolved.
  5. Place the large plastic cup, containing the Kool-Aid solution on the scale and record the total mass in the data table below.
  6. Record your observations, including appearance, smell and taste of the solution in your data table. Your lab group can have one “designated taster” or you can pour a little amount of the solution into separate Dixie cups for each group member to taste.
  7. Repeat procedure steps 1-6 three times with three additional masses of Kool-Aid powder (use masses of: 10 grams, 17 grams and 24 grams).
  8. Compare the solutions and decide which one is closest to the “correct” concentration. Rank the solutions from Best (most correct) to Worst (1-4).
  9. Pour any leftover solutions in the sink and throw away used cups.
Trial Mass of empty cup Mass of Kool-
Aid powder
Total Mass of Cup &
Kool-Aid Solution
Observations
Rank
1
2
3
4
Data

Analysis

  1. Determine the percent concentration of each of the four cups of Kool-Aid. To find the percent concentration, divide the Kool-Aid mass by the total mass of the solution and multiply your answer by 100. You may round your answer to the nearest percent.
Cup Mass of Kool-Aid (g)
Total Mass of Solution
Percent Concentration
1
2
3
4
  1. Which concentration that you tested was closest to the ideal concentration of Kool-Aid? Provide reasoning for your choice. What was wrong with each of the other solutions that you made?
  2. How are the taste, smell, and appearance of the Kool-Aid related to its concentration? Why are they related in this way?
  3. How would you know when the solution of Kool-Aid and water became saturated? What evidence would there be?
  4. Why do you think that not everyone preferred the same concentration of Kool-Aid?

Extension

  1. The Kool-Aid package recommends putting about 13 grams of Kool-Aid mix into 200 mL of water. Test this concentration. How does the taste compare to the other concentrations? Explain your response.
  2. Try several different concentrations (other than the ones that were tested) of Kool-Aid mix in 200 mL of water to see if you can improve on the recipe. List the percent concentrations and observations below.
  3. Did any of your own recipes result in a better tasting solution? Explain your response.