Monday, March 29

How to Make a Mummy STEM Activity

The ancient Egyptians had one wish... they wished they could live forever.  They believed pharaohs would need their bodies in the afterlife so, they'd mummify the pharaohs' bodies to prevent them from decomposing and rotting away.

Making a mummy was a long and tedious process that could take months to complete. First, the body was packed in a salt called natron.  This allowed the body to dry out and for the moisture to be removed.  Once it was completely dry, the body was covered with scented spices and oils, then wrapped in cloth.  Finally, the body... now called a mummy... would be placed in a coffin and buried in its final resting place.

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

If you are looking for the list of children's books about mummies, it is now a separate blog post.  You can find the list at Six Children's Books About Egyptian Mummies.
Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

How to Make a Mummy Directions

You will need:

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

Step One

Take an apple and carve a face into it.  Peeling the apple is optional.  If you peel the apple, it will look different from the photos in this post... but no worries... you'll still be able to make a unique-looking apple mummy!

Possible STEM extension: Use a combination of peeled and unpeeled apples and observe their changes throughout the mummification process.

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

Step Two

Put the apple in the sandwich bag.  Combine one part salt to one part baking soda and pour the mixture over the apple.  Shake well until all moist areas are covered.  Set aside in a cool dry place for a week.  You can look at the apple during that time, but do not open the bag.

Note: Someone told me you can toss little silica gel packs... the kind that comes in medicine bottles... into the bag to speed up the process.  I've never tried it, but am curious if it works or not.  If you try it, please let me know if they make a difference!

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

This photo shows how the salt and baking soda will stick to the moist areas of the apple as it dehydrates.  Be sure to put enough salt and baking soda into the bag to cover the whole apple.

Week One

When the week is over, remove the apple from the bag and carefully brush the salt and baking soda off of it.  Throw out the salt and baking soda that's in the bag.  How does the apple look?  How does it smell?  How does it feel?  If you can see, smell, and feel moisture left in the apple, put it back into the bag with some fresh baking soda and salt.  Check it again in another week.

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

There are some obvious changes in my apple. The salt and baking soda are slowly absorbing the liquid from the apple, causing its skin to darken and wrinkle. The apple feels squishy and soft because it's starting to decompose. What will it look like and feel like in another week? The white spots you see aren't moldy... they are spots where the salt and baking soda stuck and where I didn't want to scrape out.

Week Two

After two weeks in the salt and baking soda, our red delicious apple looks more like a prune than an apple.  The apple isn't as squishy as it was last week, but it still has some softness to it.  I took my friend's advice and threw some silica gel packs into the bag and it definitely helps.  The only drawback... some of the ink from the gel packs got onto the apple.  The green you see in the apple's left eye isn't moldy... it's ink.  Since there's still some moisture left in this apple, I'm putting it back into the back with some salt, baking soda, and more silica packs.  One more week!

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

Remember... it took MONTHS to make a mummy.  You can wait one more week!

Week Three

After three weeks, the apple continues to look more like a prune than an apple.  When I took the apple out of the bag, its wrinkles were caked with salt and baking soda.  I tried to brush that salt and baking soda off it, but they wouldn't come off. 

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

Since the salt and baking soda couldn't be wiped off easily, I rinsed the apple with some running water.  Now it really looks like a prune!

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

After three weeks, these apple mummies are ready to be sent home with your students.  They aren't completely mummified, but they are mummified enough for your students to have grasped the concept of how mummies are made.  Of course, you can continue the process of keeping the apple in salt and baking soda for a few more weeks if you'd like.  But I'm going to call it done for this blog post.  Stay tuned for part two of this experiment in which I show what happens when an apple is completely mummified!




To learn more about how mummies are made, watch the video below by Fast Facts:



No comments: