Day 4: Lipids

Learn about the science of fats and experiment at home by testing foods for lipids and making your own butter!

Activities in this lesson: 1. Testing for Lipids Experiment 2. Making Butter

The scientific term for fats is “lipids”. While large amounts of fat can be harmful to your health, fats serve a lot of important and necessary functions in the body. Many of your vital organs, such as your heart and kidneys, have fat wrapped around them as a way to cushion them and protect them from injury. Fat also acts as an insulator to keep your body at the correct temperature. Additionally, we need fats in order to be able to absorb fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K. Lastly, your body stores energy in the form of fat so that if it ever goes through times where there is no food coming in, you can still keep your body running and alive!

Determine which of the foods in your house contain lipids by completing this brown bag testing experiment

Click here to go to Testing for Lipids Experiment

Structurally, fats have 3 fatty acid “tails” all coming off a glycerol molecule. The chemistry of the tails helps determine the properties of the fats. Saturated fats have only single bonds within their fatty acid tails, so they are very straight chains. This allows saturated fat molecules to pack closely together, making them very dense. The density explains why saturated fats are solids at room temperature. Some examples are butter, margarine, and lard. In unsaturated fats, the fatty acid tails have one of more double bonds, causing the tails to bend at the location of the bond. Because they are bent, they cannot get as close together, so they pack loosely and are less dense. This is why they tend to be liquids at room temperatures. Examples include olive oil, vegetable oil, and cream

Magically transform liquid heavy whipping cream into solid butter with just a marble and a jar (or Tupperware)!

Additional Resources & Activities

Making Ice Cream

If you have any questions about an activity or need any help, please contact: Lindsey Johnson or Laurie Hayes


Heavy whipping cream 1
Jar or Tupperware container with lid 1
Marble 1
Brown paper bags 2
Various foods you'd like to test 1
Cotton Swabs (Q-Tips) 6
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