01 Chemistry Research

2023 topic:  Polymorphism of Chocolate

This event is limited to the first 18 entries


Chocolate is beyond doubt one of our most remarkable foods and many would agree it deserves a food group all by itself. It can be sweet or bitter, smooth or astringent, hard or brittle, creamy or dry.  For centuries, it was only available to us as a drink - until humanity cracked the code to make the delicious, solid chocolate we've grown to know and love today: its crystalline structure. 

In this event, you will unravel the secrets behind the polymorphism of chocolate and discover why only one of these structures delivers the ultimate promise of melting in the mouth and not in the hands.


Event-Specific Requirements: 

Part 1: Conduct Literature Research to Address the Following: 

A. A brief history of chocolate, 

B. The chemistry of chocolate: 

    a. Find out how many different types of chocolate exist and what are the differences between them. 

    b. Determine which ingredients are used to make chocolate and their chemical structure; indicate which ingredient is responsible for the crystalline structure of chocolate. 

    c. Investigate how phase transitions between different crystalline structures of chocolate occur. Understand the effects of temperature and time on crystalline structure. 

    d. Learn about the crystallization process and understand the role of nucleation in crystallization. 

C. The procedures for making the various forms of chocolate. 

Part 2: Conduct Original Research: 

• Design and conduct experiments to create at least three crystalline structures of chocolate, including the edible form, from basic ingredients. 

• Analyze and identify the created structures according to their physical properties. Create a short video of your experiment. The video should be under 10 minutes and be of high enough quality to be posted on Youtube for others to view in the future. 

Part 3: Create a written report of what you learned in parts 1 and 2: 

• Introduction including a brief history of chocolate as well as a description of the various forms and how they differ 

• Describe the chemistry involved in the crystallization of chocolate. Include the effects of temperature and time on the quality of chocolate. 

• Describe the experimental setup and procedures you ran. Diagrams may be useful here. 

• Show and analyze your results. Tables may be useful here. Discuss the difference in the physical properties of the different crystalline structures you created. 

• Draw conclusions on how to optimize the production and storage of high-quality edible chocolate. 

• Include a link to your video on YouTube in the report. 

Event Day: 

Teams will make a short (three-minute) presentation via PowerPoint/ Slides or poster. Teams are expected to bring the different chocolates that they created during their research for viewing. Presentations will be scheduled for the morning of the Chemistry Olympics. (6 minutes maximum: 3 minutes prepared presentation + 3 minutes Q&A) - This presentation should focus solely on the process of creating the different crystalline forms of chocolate and should highlight the students' understanding of polymorphism and phase transitions. Specific laboratory data collected should be presented to the judges in a graphical/ pictorial manner. Conclusions from experimentation should be clearly supported by the data provided.



Learn about the requirements concerning Primary Sources, formatting and citations for your research paper: Research Guidelines and Requirements

The Chemistry Research Paper must be received by the Director of the NJCO by the deadline indicated in: Requirement Overview.


Any questions regarding this event can be directed to Miriam Gulotta.