Cadets Measure the Energy Content of Foods

Students in BC’s sophomore chemistry class performed experiments on two different types of food to determine how much energy (number of calories) was stored in them.

Working in pairs, the cadets constructed calorimeters, devices that use water to capture the heat released by foods when they are burned. (Burning food gives off the same amount of energy as digesting food.) By measuring the temperature change of the water in their calorimeters, cadets were able to calculate how much energy was contained in each type of food.

The results were perhaps not quite what you’d think. Walnuts contain twice as many calories per gram as marshmallows.

And here’s another way to look at the results:

Bag of walnuts: $6.99
Bag of marshmallows: $1.39
Burning food in school while learning at the same time: Priceless