The kids around here are all on Winter Break this week so we have been hosting various activities to keep them busy. Today's Candy Science program worked well with my budget as most of the candy was on clearance from Valentine's Day (Pop Rocks and Sprite were the only nondiscounted items). All of the experiments except 1 were from the books Candy Experiments and Candy Experiments 2 by Loralee Leavitt.
We registered 20 kids, ages 7-12, for this program as this is what our Activity Room will hold. There was a lot of interest and if we had extra staff to cover the reference desk, we could have easily run 3 sessions of this program. It would help if you had a volunteer to help with getting extra cups out on the tables and used cups emptied out. I just tagged some of our regular parents to help out (and really, they loved being a part of the program!).
Since I was the only staff member in the room, my goal was to have as much of the supplies out on the table at the beginning as possible. Our tables seat four so I set the experiments up so kids would work as either a pair (on one side of the table) or as a group of 4. This is what our tables looked like:
Experiment 1-Floating Letters
I started with this experiment as you want to let it sit for a couple of minutes. The kids added their M&Ms to their cup of warm water. We put it aside and went onto experiment 2, then came back to check our results. We had quite a few floating M's on the surface of the water.
Experiment 2-Bobbing Hearts
The kids added their Conversation Hearts to their cup of Sprite. The hearts started bobbing up and down right away. We talked about how Sprite is carbonated and uses carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide lifts the candy hearts and as the bubbles pop, the hearts drop to the bottom of the glass.
Experiment 3-Floating/Sinking Candy Bars
We started off by talking about what a hypothesis is and made guesses as to whether each mini candy bar would float or sink. Each kid would raise their hand as we guessed so I could count them and we displayed our guesses at the front of the room.
The kids then tested their guesses as they floated the mini candy bars (Twix, Snickers, Milky Way, Milky Way, and 3 Musketeers) in glasses of water. Note-we have a lot of peanut allergies in our area so 2 tables did not use Snickers. They got to try the special Milky Way Dark bars.
If you haven't tried this experiment before, all of our candy bars sank except the 3 Musketeers. We talked about the ingredients and how the Twix, Milky Way, and Snickers all had ingredients that were heavier than water (nuts, caramel, etc.). The middle of the 3 Musketeers has a lot of air, which makes it lighter than water and will float. We then talked about other food items, such as marshmallows, that would float as they are made up mostly of air.
Experiment 4-Disappearing Twizzlers
I filled disposable plastic cups with vegetable oil and passed out whole red Twizzlers. I originally tried to break the Twizzlers in half due to the cup size, but that makes it hard for the experiment to work. We talked about reflections in water and how images are distorted. Then we added our Twizzlers to the glass and they could watch the Twizzlers bend in the oil. Finally, I had them try to make the licorice disappear. While they did this, I was able to get water out for the next experiment. Most everybody had figured out the trick of turning the glass while the licorice is at the side by the time I had finished passing out new water.
Experiment 5-Sour Candy Bubble Test
We started by talking about acids and bases. If you combine the two, you will get a chemical reaction. We guessed that our Sour Patch Kids would have acid in them because they are sour so we put some in our new glass of water. I walked around and added a spoonful of baking soda (base) to every cup and we watched the bubbles appear. This proved that our candy was an acid.
Experiment 6-Pop Rocks Expander
For this experiment, you need Pop Rocks, Sprite, and a balloon. Since I talked fast through the previous experiments, I had the kids add the Pop Rocks to the balloon without funnels to take up a little bit of time. This way, they all got a turn to try and pour. We added our balloons to the tops of our Sprite (20 oz. bottles) and tipped the Pop Rocks into the Sprite. As the balloons expanded, we talked about how both Pop Rocks and Sprite have carbon dioxide in them. In fact, Pop Rocks even list carbon dioxide as an ingredient. The carbon dioxide from both ingredients makes the balloon inflate.
The overall program took about 40 minutes, but I also talk fast. Since I had leftover candy, each kid who wanted (and whose parents would let them) could come up and get some of the leftover candy. The kids all left happy and cleared out all of our food and candy experiment books from my display.