Sweet treats

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors: Jonathan Piard/ PhD in Chemistry - teacher, Rim Madjoub/ PhD in Chemistry, Maroua Mimouni/ chemical engineer

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud

 

Objectives:
Roudoudou, marshmallow bears, car-en-sac, berlingots, malabars … we tend to think that sweets are just sugar. That is easily said and not quite true. Sweets combine an extraordinary range of shapes, textures, flavours and colours. Just look at this project: take a chemist and a class, supply ingredients and equipment and wait for the end of the year…

Workshops:
Flavours and colours
The project began with a brief discussion of manufactured confectionery – the pupils’ likes and dislikes and what they knew about it. It was a way to introduce the main topic: the chemistry of confectionery. The pupils then identified the ingredients in particular sweets and listed the physical and chemical properties of each product. They experimented with gelling agents to obtain the right soft, springy texture.

Aroma protocol
With the idea of making their own sweets from scratch, they worked on aromas. They made natural, synthetic and artificial aromas, starting with the commonly used aromas of vanilla and vanillin. Then they used less typical sources such as herbs (thyme, rosemary, and oregano), chocolate, and aniseed. Several protocols were used for each one: they synthetized aromas by esterification, and extracted others by steam distillation and maceration.

Sweet treats
Next they designed their own sweets: sugar beet suckers, herb lollipops, chlorophyll sugar sticks, organic aniseed gumdrops, bergamot jellies… The mixtures were set in prefabricated hard plastic or silicon moulds. Variations were made by twisting shapes or sticking them together (the half-moon shapes in particular).

Outcome:
During the open day, their classmates, teachers and parents were invited to try chocolate lollipops, crystallised sugar sticks, organic gumdrops flavoured with banana, pear, aniseed, and other home-made confectionery. 

 

Outings :
- PALAIS DE LA DÉCOUVERTE (PARIS): CHEMISTRY DEPARTMENT
- ÉCOLE NORMALE SUPÉRIEURE DE CACHAN: VISIT TO THE CHEMISTRY LABORATORY

Schools:
- Class (5th) Collège Marais de Villiers, Montreuil
- Class (5th) Collège Madame de Sévigné, Gagny
- Class (4th) Collège Théodore Monod, Gagny
- Class (4th) Collège Jean Jaurès, Villepinte
- Class (3rd) Collège George Braque, Neuilly-sur-Marne