A Sweet, Summer Science Experiment

Celebrate the anniversary of the invention of ice cream by making some!

By Rachel D


Ice cream cone

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”

Kids and adults everywhere will want to celebrate the anniversary of the invention of ice cream. What better way to appreciate this delectable dessert than by making it at home? This is a great way to combine summer and science.

Science Standards

Home-made ice cream is a fantastic way to teach learners about different properties, specifically those of liquids and solids. Throughout this process it is important to emphasize the ability of a substance to change properties due to many factors. In this case, mixing, cooling, and heating are necessary components for turning a few ingredients into ice cream. 

Gathering Supplies

Making ice cream at home is easier than you think. You don’t need an expensive ice cream maker or big churning machine. Everything you need is most likely already in your home, or you can pick it up on your next trip to the grocery store. Here is a list of supplies to make one bag of ice cream:



  • Spoons
  • Paper towels
  • Measuring cups & measuring spoons


  • ½ cup half and half cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 quart Ziploc bag
  • 1 gallon Ziploc bag
  • 2 cups ice
  • ¼ cup salt

After gathering all of your supplies, have your kids observe each of the ingredients. Can they determine which ones are solids or liquids? Ask them to describe the properties, or characteristics, of each one. Can your scientists also share other examples of solids and liquids?

Next, challenge them to predict how the ice cream will be made. What is the purpose of each material and ingredient? You may want to have them write down their predictions, then they will be able to easily look back and reflect on their preliminary thoughts.

Making the Ice Cream!

Now it’s time for the fun part, making the ice cream! Below are some easy steps for your ice cream-makers to follow:

  1. Mix the cream, sugar, and vanilla into the small Ziploc bag. Before sealing it, squeeze and eliminate as much air as possible.
  2. Pour the ice and salt into the larger Ziploc bag.
  3. Place the sealed bag with the ice cream ingredients into the larger bag with ice and salt. Then, seal the large bag tightly.
  4. Shake, shake, and shake! Take turns shaking the bag for at least ten minutes. Help your shakers move by playing some fun summer tunes.

After the shakers do their thing, they can cool off by enjoying some homemade ice cream. While they are reaping the benefit of their hard work, take some time to observe and discuss the product they created.

Teacher Notes

To help you check for understanding, here is a basic outline of this delicious experiment:

  • Solids: sugar, ice, salt, ice cream
  • Liquids: cream, vanilla
  • Key Vocabulary: solid, liquid, gas, matter, predict, observation, and mixture.
    • Change liquid to a solid by taking away heat
    • Take away heat with ice
    • Salt lowers the temperature of the ice

Here are some ice cream coloring pages for an extended summer activity: