Programing Party: The Science of Chocolate

Type: Educational/ Social

Topic: Chocolate, Chemistry, Biology

Cost: $15

Materials: Chocolate, Spice Gum Drops, Toothpicks

Overview:

During this program, residents were able to learn what goes into their sweet treats. The first thing that residents did was to assemble theobromine, which is a chemical found in cocoa and when digested interacts with the body in ways that induce the pleasurable feeling associated with eating chocolate. Residents were put in pairs, and competed against each other to see who could build the most structurally sound molecule, and the winning duo was awarded a giant chocolate bar. Following the short activity, a presentation about how neurotransmitters work in the body, as well as chocolate’s role in increasing the activity of certain neurotransmitters was given by me. The residents were then able to participate in a quiz type activity, where each group would answer a question presented by me. As they got the answers right, they were awarded with mini candies, as well as points. At the end of the program, the team with the most amount of points were also awarded giant chocolate bars.

I assessed the learning by handing out a pre-assessment and a post-assessment. Both assessments contained the same question, and learning was assessed by seeing the difference between previous knowledge and knowledge gained after the end of the program. Also, the short, but fun quiz based on the presentation that I gave served as another way to see if the information was being retained. In the quiz there were also questions that discussed topics that were not in the presentation, but could be answered due to the answers being common knowledge.

The residents were able to learn about the history and origins of chocolate. How chocolate as we know it came to be as well as the modifications that chocolate undergoes to get to how it is eaten today. The residents were able to learn about the chemistry behind components of chocolate such as theobromine, serotonin, tryptophan, and phenyl ethylamine and how they interact in the body.

This program ended up being better than I thought. It was a little slow at first, but the anticipation of getting chocolate made them eager to participate. My residents are super competitive, so anything that they can win riles them up, and for this program that was a plus. The hardest part for me was keeping myself from overly explaining the science, or diving into the rabbit hole. Most of the residents who attended were not in any kind of STEM major (which didn’t mean that they couldn’t enjoy it) so I knew that getting too technical would cause interest to be lost.

Overall, it was a fantastic program!

Prep:

There wasn’t a lot of prep for this. The only thing that took time was creating the PowerPoint that I used for my presentation. I did have to separate the gum drops by color, but that took only 5 minutes or so!

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