Oreo Cookies: Delicious and Educational
Innovative ways to use Oreo cookies to teach standard classroom curriculum.
By Erin Bailey
Do you remember when you were a kid and you used to break open an Oreo cookie, lick away the creamy insides, and dunk the chocolate wafers into a cold glass of milk? Did you ever twist off the top half of the Oreo and use a toothpick to carve intricate portraits of historical figures into the frosting, or use the Oreo to test scientific principles? Believe it or not, Oreos can be a way to reinforce and explore curriculum in inspiring, and delicious, ways.
Using Oreos to Study Scientific Topics
Oreos are the perfect canvas on which to have students describe the phases of the moon. Have students use a toothpick to carve the moon’s shape during each of its phases. Everybody loves the new moon phase the most, because it provides an opportunity to lick away all the frosting.
Oreos can also be used to study physics. Divide students into groups and have them build cookie towers of varying heights. Each group should start with a base that is two cookies wide; the rest of the tower should be centered above the base. One student can use a craft stick to quickly push away one of the cookies on the bottom. The other students should observe where the tower breaks first.
- Which direction does the tower fall?
- Have students rebuild their tower several times and record their observations.
- Later they can make predictions about the other groups' Oreo towers.
Students can explore the concept of motion and speed with Oreos as well. Have students construct a ramp and then roll an Oreo down it.
- How fast does the cookie travel (rate=distance/time)?
- How far does it go?
- What will make it travel faster and farther?
Oreos and the Scientific Process
Oreos also provide the perfect way to discuss the scientific process. Students can use Oreos to make predictions, come up with a hypothesis, design an experiment, make a conclusion, and share their results. Here is an example of how you can use the cookies to help students understand this process.
Have students investigate why people like to dunk Oreos in milk.
- Are there other cookies that stand up to dunking better? Can chocolate chip cookies withstand the test? How about oatmeal cookies?
- Have students set up an experiment using several brands of cookies to analyze their “dunkability.” Which ones crumble when wet? Which ones get too mushy in milk?
- Afterwards, students can make graphs to share their results.
Oreos and Measurement
With younger students, Oreos can be used to illustrate the difference between standard and non-standard measurement. For this lesson, I like to give some students mini Oreos and other students the regular sized Oreos. Then, I have them use their cookies to measure their desk tops, pencils, hands, and other easily accessible objects. After the two groups compare their results, I ask students to estimate how many Oreos long the classroom is, and the hallway. Then I ask students why Oreos might not be the best tool to use when measuring, and what objects might work better.
Advertising and the Famous Cookie
Students can show their advertising savvy by analyzing Oreo cookie commercials. There are several commercials on YouTube that you can use for this lesson. Ask students to identify which commercials are the most persuasive, who the intended audience is, and when and where they think the commercial could be shown to reach the right audience. Here are some other questions you might want to have students discuss: What does the consumer want to know about the product, and what types of skills are needed to make a commercial? After doing some research, students can write their own commercials using another product.
There are a variety of ways to take a standard classroom topic and make it more interesting for students. What follows are more innovative lessons and ideas.
Innovative Lessons and Activities:
Students study the nutrition information for various meals found at popular fast food chains. They use the data to make graphs.
Students use Hot Wheels cars and a Hot Wheels race track to test motion and speed.
Younger students graph the types of candies found in a bag.
Students research Christmas tree sales from 1900-2000 and graph the data. Then engage in a classroom survey to see who has real versus artificial trees in their homes.
Students conduct research on propaganda techniques and then analyze ads in the newspaper, and on radio and television. After their research is complete, students write and act out their own commercial.