Every year, I'm thankful that I get to teach things that I'm interested in. My favorite subject to teach is Social Studies, my favorite section is Ancient Egypt. As part of the curriculum, the students learn about the embalming and mummification process that the Egyptians created. To help them "see" the process for themselves, I have always had them do an activity where we mummify apple slices. The kids LOVE it, but I have to say, I think it's more fun for me. : )
Here is how/why we do it:
Step one: Cut the apple into slices so that the students can see the effects of mummification on both the "skin" and the "flesh". Apples react to this process very similar to a human body, which is interesting.
Step two: Mix 1 cup of salt with 1 cup of baking soda. This will create a substance similar to natron. Natron occurs naturally in Egypt and is what was use to dry the bodies out.
Step three: Pour a bit of the salt/baking soda mixture into the bottom of the cup (we don't want the apple to touch the sides of the cup), put the apple in holding it up so that it doesn't lean on the cup, pour the mixture all over the apple until it is covered.
*You will need to let the apple sit in the mixture for 7-10 days before it will be completely dried out and ready to be taken out.
Step four: Take the apple out of the mixture- the salt/baking soda will be hard, because it has sucked out all of the apple juice. There also may be a yellowish tint to the mixture (due to the juice as well). The apple will be shriveled and brown, but will not smell or grow mold.
Step five: mix white glue with a little water, dip strips of gauze into the glue mixture. Cover it completely and then wring it out so that it is only damp, and not dripping.
Step six- Wrap the apple completely. Take extra care not to leave the ends open. Then put back into the cup to dry.
*It will take a few days for the wrapping to dry completely.
At this point the apple mummies are done. I extend the activity by having my students make a sarcouphagus for their apple mummy.
I also think that it is very important to display the students' work for all students to see. It creates a lot of excitement about learning.
If you have any questions/comments/thoughts feel free to ask away! I love this project and would love to share it with anyone and everyone!