The Magic School Bus Bakes in a Cake lesson and video, "Ready Set Dough" !

Scholastic Corporation
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Animation/Movie , Experiment/Lab Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This is an lesson plan that accompanies the reading or watching of The Magic School Bus Bakes a Cake, or Ready Set Dough. The lesson is a short activity with guided questions that accompany making prezel dough. In the book and video, which are not included in the resource, The Magic School Bus shrinks down to molecule size to observe and discuss chemical and physical changes while baking. The resource contains a link to purchase the book.  The video can be found through you tube.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Elementary School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

2-PS1-4 Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.

Clarification Statement: Examples of reversible changes could include materials such as water and butter at different temperatures. Examples of irreversible changes could include cooking an egg, freezing a plant leaf, and heating paper.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The video is engaging and interactive, but it is a passive exploration of the Core Idea and the Crosscutting Concept. It would need to be part of a larger context of three-dimensional learning by inviting students to actively engage in developing explanations for what are the causal mechanisms for the chemical changes going on (heat), and that the pretzels cannot return to their original state.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The practice is not explicitly addressed. Although the characters in the movies construct arguments about physical and chemical changes, the video does not provide instructional support for students to do so. These arguments from the video, however, could be explicitly expressed and deconstructed, and compared. The teacher could write down what a few of the characters say and examine their words after the activity. The teacher would ask the class to argue for a position that the characters take, and help them prioritize evidence from the activity in their arguments.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students have first hand experiences of this Core Idea through the activity and questions. The video and book are engaging and support another experience of the concept using animation but are supplemental to this resource.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Again, this Crosscutting Concept should be supported with explicit deconstruction of the mechanisms for cause and effect (in this case, heat changes something critical about the dough). The video and book can support the activity and everyday experiences and investigations.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The grade-appropriate lesson plan is a good activity that would provide evidence of irreversible change as part of a larger unit about chemical and physical changes. The student would need to have many more experiences with materials that change with heat, and the same materials that do not change when heat is not added to the system.

  • Instructional Supports: The video provides a deeper understanding of the Core Idea, Practice, and Crosscutting Concept of these changes at a molecular level.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lesson, book, and video do not include assessment to monitor progress. Assessment could be made through journal writing or class discussion.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The lesson is a supplemental activity. The video is easy access on you tube, but is not centrally part of the activity itself.