Do you know about the growing gummy bear experiment? It takes very little room, isn’t messy, and kids love it!
Here’s how we landed on this experiment…
My kids and I stopped at the drug store for baby wipes, and my 3.5 year old bombarded me with five minutes of excitement that sounded like this, “Mom, stop! You have to see this. Mom, can you get me this light up candy cane/cup shaped like a fairy/snow globe. Wait!!! I really want it!” Ugh. Why do stores have to put all their bling at child height?
I normally adore her enthusiasm, but I have a short wick for the begging and pleading for random odds and ends. Pair that with a one-year old who insists on standing in the shopping cart and you get the picture of me yearning for a hot cup of coffee and a trashy magazine.
In my mom-haze I accidentally walked us down the candy aisle on the way to check out. Dumb move, I know, and my older daughter quickly managed to pull a bag of gumdrops off the display with a request to make gumdrop sculptures.
Ack. She knows my weak spot for creative projects!
Um, yes, we can buy the gumdrops for the sake of your growing mind. And with that, she also pulled down a pack of gummy bears. I remembered reading about a gummy bear experiment, and that’s how we ended up bringing these little jelly woodland creatures home with us.
The experiment is easy.
Supplies: Gummy Bear Experiment
- Gummy Bears
Add a gummy bear to water. Check on it after a couple hours and compare its size to the original gummy bear. See what happens if you leave this in the water for one day, two days, and three days.
- Set up a number of bowls and place one gummy bear in each one. Add different liquids to each bowl (water, soda, vinegar, etc.) and see how or if the solutions change the results.
- Document the changing scale of the gummy bears with drawings or photographs.
- Compare the taste of the plump bears with the original bears.
How we ran this experiment
My older daughter and I each had to eat one, of course, we chose a couple to add to the water. I asked her what she thought might happen to them after being submerged, and she said she didn’t know. After a couple hours we checked on them, and found them covered in tiny bubbles. We compared them to one of the dry originals, and the wet bears were a bit plumper!
I left 3.5 year old N in the kitchen while I put her baby sister down for a nap, and returned to find her nibbling on one of the plump bears!! She had this to say, “I know I wasn’t supposed to eat the bear, but I had to also compare the way they taste to see if they tasted the same.” How could I be upset with that?
In all, we let the bears sit in water for three days, and you can see the size difference in this image. The gummies kept expanding and then finally seemed to fall apart.
If you try this at home, and want to do a taste comparison, be sure to refrigerate your gummy bears so they don’t grow bacteria. Yikes!
The Science behind the Experiment
Gummy bears are made up of water, sugar, and gelatin. Like a sponge, gummy bears will absorb water but the gelatin keeps the bears from dissolving in the water.
More Science Inspiration
If you enjoyed this project, check out my book, TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors.
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