Candy Experiments for the New Year

by Loralee Leavitt

Do you have resolutions for the New Year? Like cleaning out your

cupboards? Helping your family cut back on sweets? Teaching your

children more science? With candy experiments, you can do all these.

Just pull out any leftover Halloween candy, winter candy canes, and

holiday goodies, and use them for fun science activities that your

kids will love.



Sour candy contains acid. Acid reacts with baking soda to

create bubbles. So if you dissolve candy and add baking soda, you can

watch the bubbles to see how much acid each candy has. To test your

candy for acid, fill several cups or bowls with about ½ cup of warm

water each. Let the candy dissolve as much as you can, stirring or

breaking up candy to dissolve it faster. Then add about ¼ tsp baking

soda to each cup. Which bubbled the most? Was it the sourest?


Sink and Float:

Fill a large bowl with cool water, and drop in candies to see

which sink and which float. Then cut the candies open to examine the

insides. Candies like 3 Musketeers, Whoppers, and chocolate

marshmallows contain air bubbles that help them float, while candy

that sinks is often solid in the middle. You can also test candy bars

that are still wrapped. Do the wrapped bars float better than the

unwrapped ones? Do they still float if you tear the wrappers to

release the trapped air?



Some candy melts quickly. Some melts

slowly. Some doesn’t melt at all. To see which is which, place

different candies on a foil-lined baking sheet and put in a 300 F

oven. (Never heat a Jawbreaker.) Check every few minutes to see what

is happening. Candy like Smarties and Jolly Ranchers melt fairly

quickly, creating candy puddles; chocolate bars melt away from their

fillings; and mint Life Savers don’t melt at this temperature. You’ll

also be able to point out oil spots in candies like Tootsie Rolls and

Starbursts, as the melted oil pools on top of the sugary candy.



If you have any sticky candy, try the sticky test. Which

candy is stickiest? Can you make it stickier by rolling it or warming

it in your hands? Pull out the rest of your leftover candy, and let

your kids stick it all together to make crazy shapes and sculptures.


No matter which experiments you choose, your kids will have a great

time in the candy lab. And as you clean leftover candy out of your

cupboards, teach your kids about the ingredients hidden in their sweet

treats, and enjoy science activities together, you’ll know you’re

starting the year off right!


****Loralee Leavitt is the creator of, which

features these and many more experiments. She will be presenting

candy experiments at the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival in

Washington D.C., and her book on Candy Experiments will be published

in October 2012.



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