Charred Marshmallow Souffle

sparking marshmallow

At the (BCCE) in Notre Dame this summer, Holly Walter-Kerby and Maria Gallardo-Williams unveiled an event called . According to Walter-Kerby, inspiration for The Mole stems from the popular storytelling event called that is featured on NPR radio. The Mole at Notre Dame consisted of several teachers of chemistry taking a few minutes to tell a story about life in the classroom. I was invited by Walter-Kerby and Gallardo-Williams to speak at the inaugural session of The Mole at BCCE 2018, and it was a real honor to participate in this incredible event.

I told the story of how one of my students discovered how to make . I went on to describe how we made sense of the sparking phenomenon, and how the process of his discovery and our work together contributed to transforming the way I think about teaching chemistry. You can listen to a .

In the video below you can see how to get a marshmallow to spark in the microwave, and also how we think the sparking phenomenon occurs.

 

 

The sparking marshmallow phenomenon ends up being a good way to demonstrate the fact that sugar contains carbon, and also that graphite is a good conductor.

Due to its success and popularity at its debut, I’m pretty sure we’ll see additional runnings of The Mole at future BCCE meetings. I hope to hear your story in Oregon in 2020!


Acknowledgement: A huge thank you to David Welch, who first observed that charred marshmallows spark when microwaved, and who also helped to determine possible causes for how it did so.