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Cup or cone? A science lesson for the taste buds

“Number two is goat’s milk,” said Caitlin Ostberg, youth services manager at Cumberland County Headquarters Library.

The children in the room all squealed. 

They had just taste-tested four different types of ice cream as part of a demonstration to show that ice cream can be made out of more than cow’s milk. Option 1 was made with cashew milk, option 3—cookies and cream—was made with cow’s milk, and option 4 was made with coconut milk. Option 2, goat’s milk, was not a fan favorite.

But the children were not at the library just to taste ice cream. They were there to learn how to make their own. The “DIY Ice Cream!” event on Wednesday in Fayetteville was part of April’s North Carolina Science Festival, which featured 676 science events across the state.

“Being able to do this at the library, it allows us to let kids see the fun side of science and also to apply it to their daily lives as another form of literacy,” Ostberg said. “Parents like that their kids get exposed to other ideas, and the kids learn that science and STEM activities are really fun.”

Caitlin Ostberg helps guide parents and their children through the ice cream making process. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC

Ostberg and and youth services associate Jared White walked children (with the help of their parents) through the full recipe and process of making their own ice cream:

1. Milk

pouring milk
A family starts with step one in the ice cream making process: milk poured into a ziploc bag. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC 

2. Vanilla

girl making ice cream
A girl adds vanilla to her do-it-yourself ice cream creation. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC

3. Sugar

girl making ice cream
A participant at the Cumberland County Public Library event adds sugar to her ice cream recipe. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC

4. Place sealed ziploc bag into a bigger bag of salt and ice. “It helps make the ice cream colder, faster,” Ostberg said of adding salt to the ice pack.

A girl prepares salt for her ice pack at the DIY ice cream event. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC

5. Shake for about five minutes. “It’ll be like a milkshake,” said White regarding the consistency of the ice cream when ready.

A group of girls shake their ice cream bags to help their recipes get a milkshake consistency. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC

6. Taste time!

A boy offers his little sister a taste of the ice cream he made at a Cumberland County Public Library event. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC







Yasmin Bendaas

Yasmin Bendaas is a Science writer.  A North Carolina native, she received her master’s degree in Science & Medical Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, where she was a Park Fellow. She received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology in 2013 from Wake Forest University, where she double-minored in journalism and Middle East and South Asia studies. As an undergraduate student, Bendaas gained insight into public health when she interned at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, a statewide grantmaker focused on rural health, including access to primary care, diabetes, community-centered prevention, and mental health and substance abuse. 

As a journalist, Bendaas has been funded twice by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for fieldwork in Algeria — first to cover a disappearing indigenous tattoo tradition, and again to look at how climate change affects rural sheepherding practices.