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Virtual Science Fair

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You’d Butter Believe It

Have science fun as a family! Complete activities with parental supervision.

  • Measuring cup
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • A clean glass jar with a tight seal, about 1 quart
  • Stopwatch (optional)
  • Small container or ziploc bag
  1. Pour 1/2 cup of whipping cream into the measuring cup and leave it out until it reaches room temperature (3-5 hours).
  2. Pour the whipping cream into the glass jar and tightly screw on the lid.
  3. Warm up and shake out your arms because you’re about to get a workout!
  4. Start the stopwatch and begin shaking the jar.
  5. You may be shaking the jar for between 5-20 minutes! Don’t give up!
  6. Periodically check on your progress. The more your shake, the foamier the cream will get. Before it turns into butter, you actually get whipped cream!
  7. When your light yellow butter forms, stop the stopwatch and record your time.
  8. Open your jar and carefully pour out the liquid. This will make your butter last longer.
  9. Place the butter into a small storage container or ziploc bag until you’re ready to enjoy it.
  10. Be sure to take a picture or video to share in the Facebook comments on the Buffalo Museum of Science or Tifft Nature Preserve pages!

What’s it all about?

When cream is shaken, the fat molecules (lipids) are smashed into one another, causing them to clump together. When you keep shaking, all of the fat clumps together, creating butter. The liquid left over is buttermilk!

Try It!

The instructions say to leave it out at room temperature, but what would happen if you didn’t and shook up cold cream? Does it take longer to make butter? Do you end up with less butter? If you have cream left over, try it out!

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