Light My Fire
Adapted from Waste Management Awareness Attitudes Activities, St. Lawrence County, NY
Back to Trash Goes to School

SUBJECT AREAS: chemistry, physics, earth science
CONCEPT: Energy is created when objects are burned.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the numbers of calories in various products.
- graduated cylinder
- metal cup
- burner
- sparker
- clamp and stand
- thermometer
- tongs
- corn products (snack food)
KEYWORDS: endothermic, exothermic, isothermic
BACKGROUND: By burning food, one can determine the calories produced. The calories equal the mass of the water multiplied by the change in temperature. A kilocalorie = 1000 calories. 1 ml. of water has an approximate mass of 1 gram. A calorimeter is a device to do this process. Exothermic means produces energy, endothermic means absorbs energy.
1. Determine the mass of a JAX (a snack food). Record on table.
2. Clamp the sides of the metal cup to the stand.
3. Measure out 50 ml. of tap water and put it into the cup.
4. Determine the temperature of the water and record it below.
5. Light the burner. Hold a JAX at one end with the tongs.
6. Ignite the other end and then quickly place it under the metal cup. Keep it there until all the JAX is burned. (Note: if the flame goes out, reignite it and continue.)
7. Determine the highest temperature for the water and record it.
8. Calculate the number of calories produced.
(# cal. = t x mass of water)
where t = temperature change
9. Repeat the procedure with fresh tap water and a DOODLE, then a BUGLE.


 Food Mass (g)

 Temperature Initial Final

 Temp. Change

 Mass Water

 #Cal. Produced

 cal./g (food)







1. Which product produced most calories/g.? __________
2. What is the number of kilocalories produced by the JAX?_______; the DOODLE?________; the BUGLE?______.
3. If a bag has 200 JAX, how many kilocalories will be produced? ________; 200 DOODLES? ________; 200 BUGLES? _________.
4. All the reactions were (exothermic, endothermic or isothermic). Circle answer.