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6 Candy Science Fair Projects for Kids

  • Andrews McMeel Publishing

    How to Sink a Marshmallow

    Time: 5 to 10 minutes
    Skill Level: Medium
    The experiment: Marshmallows are filled with air, which makes them float. Can you sink them?

    What you need:

    • Mini marshmallows
    • Large clear bowl of water
    • Cornstarch
    • Flat surface, such as a cutting board, tabletop or counter
    • Spoon (optional)

    What to do:

    1. Drop a marshmallow into the water. Does it sink or float?
    2. Sprinkle cornstarch over your flat surface.
    3. Put the marshmallow on the cornstarch and squash it. Try rolling it, smashing it down or smashing it between your hands. The cornstarch will keep it from getting too sticky.
    4. Put it in water to see if it floats. (If it sticks to your hands, scrape it off with the spoon.)
    5. The more you squash the marshmallow, the lower it will float in the water. If you squash it small enough, it will sink.
    6. If your marshmallow didn’t sink, grab another one and try again!

    What’s happening:

    When you squash the marshmallow, you make it smaller and denser. The smaller it is, the less water it can push aside, and the lower it floats. If you squash the marshmallow so small that it’s denser than water, it will sink.

    More fun:

    Can’t sink your marshmallow? Pour a cup of cooking oil, such as vegetable oil, into a bowl, and drop in your marshmallow. Since the oil is less dense than water, the marshmallow is more likely to sink.

    If you’re a champion at sinking mini marshmallows, try sinking large marshmallows. Can you beat the challenge?

    For more science check out these Pinterest-inspired science project ideas.

  • Andrews McMeel Publishing

    Floating Letters

    Time: 5 minutes
    Skill Level: Easy
    The experiment: M&M’s, Skittles and Jelly Belly beans sink in water—mostly. To see what floats, try this.

    What you need:

    • M&M's, Skittles or Jelly Belly beans
    • Bowl of warm water

    What to do:

    1. Drop the candy into the bowl of water, logo side up.
    2. Wait a few minutes. Do not stir the water.
    3. After a few minutes, look for floating letters. (Some break up as they rise, but a few should survive intact.)

    What’s happening:

    The white letters on M&M’s, Skittles and Jelly Belly beans are printed with an edible ink that doesn’t dissolve in water. When the rest of the candy shell dissolves, the letters peel off and float.

  • Andrews McMeel Publishing

    Hearts Bobbing

    Time: 5 minutes
    Skill Level: Easy
    The experiment: Hearts sink, and hearts float. Can you make them do both?

    What you need:

    • Clear drinking glass
    • Club soda or clear soda
    • Conversation hearts or Necco wafers

    What to do:

    Fill the drinking glass with soda. Put the candies in the glass. Do some of them float? Do they sink again? (If they don’t sink by themselves, tap them with a spoon to knock off the bubbles.)

    What’s happening:

    Club soda contains carbon dioxide gas. When the carbon dioxide forms bubbles on the candies, the candies start floating. It’s as if they were wearing life jackets. But as the candies rise, the bubbles pop or get knocked off. Without the bubbles, the candies sink back to the bottom. Then bubbles start to form again, and the cycle starts over.

     

  • Andrews McMeel Publishing

    The Incredible Growing Gummi Worm

    Time: 2 hours to 2 days
    Skill Level: Easy
    The experiment: Gummi candy grows bigger as it absorbs water. How big can your gummi get?

    What you need:

    • Gummy candy containing gelatin, such as gummi worms, Life Savers Gummies or gummi fruit snacks
    • Bowl of water

    What to do:

    1. Put the gummi candy in the bowl of water.
    2. Check the candy after a few hours. Is it expanding?
    3. Wait a couple of days. How big did your gummi candy grow? (Since different gummi candies are made using different recipes, some don’t expand in water. If your candy didn’t grow, try a different kind.)

    What’s happening:

    “A dehydrated gummi worm is an unhappy gummi worm,” says one scientist. That’s because gummi worms absorb water. Lots of water.

    Gummi candies are made with gelatin, a tangle of long protein molecules. (The tangled molecules don’t break apart easily, which makes gummies stretchy.) When you put gelatin in water, the protein pulls the water into the tangle and the candy expands. Eventually, it absorbs so much water that the molecules spread apart and untangle, which makes the candy fall apart more easily.

    As the gummi candy absorbs more and more water, it starts to resemble a different kind of gelatin dessert. Jell-O is also made of gelatin, sugar and water. So when you expand your gummi candy, you’re making something like Jell-O

    More fun:

    If you want to find out how much water your gummi worm absorbed, weigh it before and after the experiment. The added weight is the extra water. (If your gummi candy breaks, try lifting it with a slotted spoon or pouring the water and candy onto a plate.)

  • Andrews McMeel Publishing

    Clamshell Skittles

    Time: 2 to 5 minutes
    Skill Level: Get a grown-up
    The experiment: Can you crack Skittles open like clamshells?

    What you need:

    • Skittles
    • Microwave-safe plate
    • Microwave

    Alternative:

    • Aluminum foil-lined baking sheet
    • Oven

    What to do:

    1. Place the Skittles on the plate and microwave them for 1 to 2 minutes. (Alternatively, place the Skittles on the baking sheet and melt them in the oven at 350°F for about 5 minutes.)
    2. Do the Skittles crack open like clams?

    What’s happening:

    Since the insides of the Skittles are soft, they contain more water than the outside sugar shells. This means the insides will soften faster when they get hot, spilling out the sides.

    Do some of the Skittles open up like clamshells? Perhaps the hot candy on the inside is creating steam, which pushes up the tops of the Skittles.

  • Andrews McMeel Publishing

    Crazy Canes

    Time: 10 to 30 minutes
    Skill Level: Get a grown-up
    The experiment: Snap! That’s what happens to your candy cane if you try to bend it. Is there a way to bend candy canes without breaking them?

    What you need:

    • Oven
    • Aluminum foil
    • Baking sheet
    • Candy cane or straight candy stick

    What to do:

    1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
    2. Tear off a square of aluminum foil. Fold it in half, then fold again and again to make a rectangular strip about 3 inches wide (wider than the candy cane). Bend this strip into a fun shape, like a zigzag, an S-curve or a bowl.
    3. Place the foil shape on the baking sheet and put the candy cane on the foil shape. Heat in the oven for 5 to 20 minutes. (The melting time will depend on the size of the candy cane.) Check frequently until the candy cane has softened and curved into the shape of the mold.

    What’s happening:

    When you’re melting an ice cube, you can see it turn to water. An ice cube is a solid, made from molecules locked together as crystals. When it melts, the molecules break apart. The solid becomes a liquid.

    The molecules in a candy cane don’t make crystals. Instead, the candy cane contains lots of kinds of molecules jumbled together, like the fruit Life Saver in the Life Savers Melting Race experiment on page 96. When it gets warm, it doesn’t turn liquid right away. Instead, it gets softer and softer as the molecules shift around. That’s why you can turn a warm candy cane into a crazy cane.

    In fact, your candy cane has already been heated and bent. A candy cane is made from a straight candy stick that’s bent into a cane shape while it’s still warm.

  • Andrews McMeel Publishing

    Learn more about Candy Experiments and where to buy at candyexperiments.com

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