Skip Navigation

Fuel for Living Things

Author(s): Nancy P. Moreno, PhD, Barbara Z. Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.


Have students work in groups of four.

Teacher Materials

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda 
  • A few drops of vinegar

Materials per Student Group

  • 2 cups, 9-oz clear plastic 
  • 2 spoons or coffee stirrers 
  • 1/2 to 1 cup warm water 
  • Clear, re-sealable plastic bag, 4 in. x 6 in. in size 
  • Handful of raw, finely sliced red or purple cabbage 
  • teaspoon of dry yeast 
  • teaspoon of sugar


The indicator solution can be made in advance by the teacher, or by student groups during Sessions 1 or 2. Session 3 should be conducted as an investigation by student groups. Between sessions, consider having students read part of Mr. Slaptail’s Curious Contraption.

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education