Patrol kids about the “Liquid Gold”.
October is the season to pick up the olives from the trees and transform them into oil. Recently Olive trees owner are really active and the olive oil factory of Murter is running at full speed.
Olive growing and olive oil production is linked to humanity through the entire history. The olive tree was widespread throughout the Mediterranean, and was spotted in the mythology and history of many Mediterranean countries, Greece, Italy, Croatia… By coming to the Adriatic, Croats from the Romans gradually take over olive cultivation. At the end of the 18th century, olive growing in our region reached its peak, so it is estimated that within the borders of Dalmatia, which was under the Venetian rule, there were grown 20 to 30 million olive trees, this is more than nowadays number (3.5 million).
In the first game ‘patrol kids’, had to build, in team, an olive tree habitat (shape of the tree trunk) reflecting the characteristics of the Olive tree. Actually, its characteristics are crackling trunk, bark highly resistant to rotting, which is why they call it – wood life. According to these characteristics, we made the task more difficult: only 4 legs, 3 arms, 3 elbows, 1 butt and 2 knees could be on the floor and there were five kids in the group! We have to admit that not all of us participated in this game so we did not have problems in making a decision on the winner.
After laughing at our wonderful but unique team olive tree, the second game went more successfully. To play this game, ‘patrol kids’ should first understand the developmental phase of olive tree’s pipe (insects), from egg stage, larvae, chrysalis and adult insect. All the kids were first eggs, and the luckiest ones managed to reach the stage of an adult insect, causing common damage to the olives tree’s leaves. It is recognizable by the semi-circular cutouts on the edges of the leaves, which the ‘patrol kids’ had a chance to observe.
After having presenting the olive trees we talked about the famous product that this tree can offer us: the olive oil! To understand the properties of the oil we set some visual chemical experiments. The ‘patrol kids’ were becoming little chemist! In the first experiment, we explain the relationship between oil and water. The oil is lighter than water, it is why the oil floats on the water. Usually the water and the oil cannot mix between them, but they became friends only when an emulsifier molecule is in between, such as soap. In that way, the chemists patrol kids could understand and see how the handwashing soap, acts when washing hands after dinner.
Now that the kids know the particular properties of the oil, we could use them to create a lava lamp. To make lava lamp effect with bubbles we were using salt and blowing tablets. The salt is heavier than the oil so it drops down to the bottom wearing droplets of oil through the painted water. The bubbling tablets dissolve in the water and create a multitude of CO2 bubbles that want to get out of the water and move toward the surface together with colored water molecules. When they reach the surface, bubbles explode and release droplets of water. The water returns to its original position beneath the oil layer.
After chemist, the ‘patrol kids’ had to turn in job of marketing responsible. They had to design a bottle, using their creativity, to sell their olive oil. They could even make an advertising show by choosing a song and dance.
Finally, we went to Murter’s Oil factory. To enjoy the way to go to the factory, we played a game with the help of our volunteers, we learned the French and Italian words. We stop to measure the diameter of the olive trees we encountered and evaluate their age. The oldest olive tree had 700 years old!
The oil factory was working, so we had the opportunity to see the entire olive oil process: cleaning and washing the fruit, grinding, mixing the dough, separating the solid from the liquid part, separating the oil into the water and ultimately the oil.
Olive has always been a symbol of peace, fertility, strength, health and well-being. Olive oil due to its health benefits rightly deserves the name ‘Liquid gold’, and is an indispensable ingredient in preparing most dishes.
See you next time!