Save the marshmallows!

Where is the best place to put marshmallows in the car if you know it’s going to get hot and you don’t want marshmallow goo??

Sometimes, to share my love of geoscience, I have to trade the relative comfort of the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for Houston TX. Sometimes, we end up needing supplies, like marshmallows. With other errands to run, we were faced with a conundrum: do we detour to deliver the marshmallows to a climate controlled hotel? Facilitator extraordinaire, Ed, said we could just put the bag of marshmallows under the car seats. Having done car temperature experiments in MI, where the outside temperatures were significantly lower than Houston, my brain did not accept that as a solution.

BUT- it was an easily testable claim AND we didn’t need the entire bag of marshmallows for our official purposes.

Materials:

  • 3 ziptop bags with mini marshmallows in each
  • 1 (dark blue) vehicle (with black cloth interior) with the windows up, parked facing NE.
  • 1 visit to Space Center Houston

Method: Bags of multicolored mini marshmallows were stashed:

  • Placed under the front passenger-side seat from behind the seat
  • On top of the passenger side front seat
  • Suspended from the passenger side visor
  • We then checked out Space Center Houston between 11:30 am – 2 pm, during which time it was sunny and the outside temperature was between 92-95°F according to a nearby weather station.
  • Looking at the marshmallows after 2 hours in a hot car.

    Checking out the results!

    3 bags of multi colored marshmallows.

    Results: the marshmallows that were hanging from the visor (top) were thoroughly melted and seemed dangerously hot. The ones that had been on the seat (middle) were partially melted, but the ones that had been stashed under the seat (bottom) were completely fine and hadn’t even begun to stick together!

    Results: Much to our surprise, stashing the marshmallows under the seat actually worked! Unfortunately we did not have any temperature sensing equipment, but the conditions under the seat must have been significantly cooler than the other parts of the car given that those marshmallows were seemingly unscathed.

    Future work: Sacrificing more marshmallows to science but with more temperature sensing equipment!

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    One thought on “Save the marshmallows!

    1. Pingback: Save the marshmallows – part 2 | Doing Science To Stuff

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