College Students Learn Complex Science with Chocolate

Chocolate can make anything better — including, it turns out, complex matters of science.

Chocolate can make anything better — including, it turns out, complex matters of science. That’s apparently the thinking behind a materials science and engineering course on offer at Johns Hopkins University in which undergraduate students learn the concepts of thermodynamics by experimenting with chocolate.

The winter intersession course, " Chocolate: An Introduction to Materials Science," has proven especially popular with non-science majors. “There are specific foods that work well for explaining ideas,” Jennifer Dailey, the Johns Hopkins doctoral student and  self-confessed “chocoholic” who came up with the idea for it, told the Washington Post. “Chocolate has a beautiful crystal structure. It crystallizes in five different ways, depending how you heat and cool it. You can discover how it gets to be a beautiful, shiny candy bar rather than that icky melted thing that you find in your pocket.”

Chocolate also lends itself to helping students learn about what phase a material will be at varying temperatures and compositions, something that is traditionally done using metals like gold and copper. It’s more interesting — and far tastier — to figure all that out when hot chocolate, chocolate milk and ice cream are involved, Dailey notes.

In fact, the only complaint seems to be gustatory overkill. Dailey told the Post that students have griped that the course required them to eat too much chocolate.

Lesson 1, kids: There’s no such thing as too much chocolate.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Next Up

Brownie Batter Cookies — The Weekender

Trisha Yearwood’s Brownie Batter Cookies are dense, rich and a chocolaty bite of cookie pleasure. Get the recipe.

How to Chop and Melt Chocolate: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lots of recipes call for melted chocolate. Read these step-by-step instructions to do it properly, then watch the how-to video.

Enter to Win a Box of See's Candies Chocolates for Your Valentine

Find out how you can enter to win one of five boxes of chocolate from See's Candies.

12 Days of Holiday Gifts: Chocolate Bark

Everyone loves chocolate, so everyone on your holiday list will love a batch of homemade chocolate bark.

Calling All Chocoholics: 5 Decadent Chocolate Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Treat your sweet tooth to Food Network's most-indulgent chocolate desserts, including gooey cakes, over-the-top brownies and next-level cookies.

5 Chocolatey Reasons to Stay in This Valentine's Day — Comfort Food Feast

Toast Cupid's handiwork with these light yet swoon-worthy chocolate desserts.

Spooky Taste Test: Dark Chocolate

In the spirit of Halloween, we polled our Facebook fans and taste tested your favorite brands of dark chocolate. Read up on the spooky nutrition facts and learn if your favorite dark chocolate is really a treat or just tricky marketing.

Make Your Own Chocolate-Covered Matzo

Make a fun Kosher-for-Passover treat: chocolate-covered matzo topped with almonds and sea salt.

6 Ways to Warm Up with Flavored Hot Chocolate

If the season's chill has you cozying up under a blanket, try one of these comforting cocoas to warm up from the inside out.