Molecular Gastronomy: Use Self-Assembly to Make a Dessert Topping

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Molecular gastronomy is the scientific study of food preparation. Learners use self-assembly techniques to create edible capsules of chocolate syrup (food grade ingredients are required). The included video discusses nanotechnology and explains the nanometer, then demonstrates the activity. The video also explains how the same scientific principles are used at the Rice University Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) to create nanocapsules for more efficient drug delivery.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Blender
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Droppers or syringes
  • 3 Bowls (or other shallow containers)
  • Sieve or slotted spoon
  • Water
  • Dessert Topping
  • Food grade sodium alginate
  • Food grade calcium chloride


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Changes of Phase

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • taste
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • , Children's Museum of Houston, 2011

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