Investigating Starch

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In this activity (on pages 10-15), learners investigate starch in human diets and how plants make starch (carbohydrates) to use as their food source. Testing with a dropper of iodine in Part One, learners discover that starch content differs from food to food. In Part Two, learners taste chewed and unchewed food and compare the starch content.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 plastic pipet or dropper
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons iodine (povidone-iodine 10% solution -- found in drugstores)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 soda crackers
  • 8 small plastic or wax-coated paper cups
  • 4 plastic spoons
  • 1 plastic plate
  • 4-5 small pieces: cheese, bread, corn chips, crackers, apples, potatoes or celery


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Human Body
      • Digestion
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Taste
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • taste

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Explicity developed for this group


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All rights reserved, University of Nebraska State Museum, 2001

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation Informal Science Education Program, 9909496
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute