Friday, August 1, 2014

Fizz, Boom, Read!: Candy Science

This week's program for grades 3-6 was Candy Science. I can't lie; planning this program made me feel a little bit like Willy Wonka.

My goal for this program was to increase the kids' understanding of science concepts through experiments involving candy. The kids were understandably excited about this.

Here's what we did:

Removing M's from M&Ms: I found this idea here. It is super simple but very impressive. The kids put a handful of M&Ms in a bowl of water and waited for the M's to float up as the coating dissolved. I made sure they did this experiment first because when I tried it at home it took awhile for them to float up on their own (maybe a half hour?). I was grateful it happened a little more quickly for the kids.

Sink or float candy: We tested different fun sized candy bars to see if they sank or floated. I found this idea on Reading Confetti. We used Kit Kats, Milky Ways, Snickers and Three Musketeers. Spoiler Alert: The Kit Kats and Three Musketeers floated, while the Snickers and Milky Way sank. The kids definitely seemed to understand that the candy's fillings were what made the difference. We even had a short discussion about density. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of this one.

Dissolving Gobstoppers: Another experiment to learn about dissolving. If you place Gobstoppers in water evenly spaced they will disolve and the colors will remain distinct. Next time I do this program I would love to try testing the same experiment with other liquids, as Steve Spangler suggests.

Gumdrop Engineering: I gave the kids a set number of gumdrops and toothpicks and told them to build as tall of a tower as they could in ten minutes. First we did it individually, then I had them repeat the challenge in teams. This was an activity I've done before with marshmallows, and it always seems to be a hit. We discussed their scientific thinking afterwards. For instance, we talked about which shapes seem to be the most stable.

One of the individual creations.

One of the creations from our team challenge.
How it went:
Overall, I think the kids had a good time. They seemed impressed by the M&M and Gobstopper experiments and did a great job making the gum drop towers. I'm sure they would love to do something like this again.

Tips and Tricks:
  • Try to hand out the candy on an "as needed" basis as much as possible. This will help keep the kids eating too much. I did send the kids home with a few fun sized bars each, and let them snack on the gobstoppers and M&Ms throughout the program.
  • For the M&M experiment, the more candy you put in to dissolve, the grosser the result will be. It will also make it just a little harder to see the M's as they rise. I did remind the kids of this and suggested they put around 5 pieces in for best results. I combined that with the statement: "Why waste perfectly good candy we could be eating?"
  • Styrofoam bowls are just a little too slippery for the Gobstopper experiment. The gobstoppers kept slipping to the center of the bowl, instead of sitting along the edges as they did when I tried it at home.
  • Candy chromotography would be a great addition to this program. The only reason I didn't do it this time is that we did it earlier this summer at a science themed crafts program.
This post is part of Thrive Thursday, a blog hop in which librarians share school age program ideas. This month's roundup is hosted by Amy at The Show Me Librarian. Head over and check it out for more great ideas!


  1. I had no idea you could do this much with candy!

    1. There are definitely a lot of ideas out there! I had so much fun researching them :)