Experimenting with Candy! (Guest Post)

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With summertime fun and sugary snacks providing so many distractions, can your children actually learn anything over the summer?  Yes, they can, if you sneak in some science with fun activities like candy experiments.

Our family created candy experiments when my oldest daughter was four, and wanted to put Nerds in water. Since her first experiment, we have destroyed candy in dozens of ways and learned about chemistry, physics, and nutrition along the way. Here are a few of our favorites.

Melting:  If summertime heat makes your kids complain that they’re going to melt, try melting candy to see what’s inside.  If you microwave Starbursts, you’ll see shiny spots of oil that separate out from the candy. If you microwave chocolate, you might start the blooming process, in which unstable chocolate crystals start to move and separate, causing white cocoa butter “bloom” to form on the outside of the bar.

Cotton Candy Experiments:  Some candy experiments use cotton candy, a summertime staple.  To make cotton candy vanish, dip a puff of cotton candy in water. As capillary action carries water up the network of tiny candy strands, the water dissolves the candy from the bottom up. You can also weigh cotton candy to see how much sugar it really contains–you might be surprised to see that cotton candy is mostly air!

Find Hidden Candy:  You’ll find hidden sugar in all sorts of summer snacks, from popsicles and ice cream bars to “healthy” power bars and sports drinks. To help your kids see how much “hidden candy” they’re eating, read the snack’s nutrition label to see how much sugar it contains. Then weigh candy on a kitchen scale until it matches the weight of the sugar on the label.  Eating the snack would be like eating that amount of candy.

You’ll find more summer learning experiments in our book, Candy Experiments, or at www.candyexperiments.com. Enjoy summer learning!

Loralee Leavitt is the author of Candy Experiments, Road Tripping, and Candy Experiments 2 (coming in January 2015). Follow her candy adventures at www.candyexperiments.com

Hot and Cold Candy

(Guest Post by Loralee Leavitt)
In hot weather, kids crave cold drinks.  This makes summer a great time to learn about hot and cold temperatures. Here’s a candy experiment from candyexperiments.com that demonstrates how things dissolve differently in hot and cold water.
What to do:
1. Fill one cup with hot water.  Fill another cup with cold water.  (You can even add ice cubes to make it colder!)
2. Take identical pieces of brightly colored candy, such as Skittles, M&M’s, or spoonfuls of Nerds.   Put half in the hot cup and half in the cold cup.
3. Watch the colors spread as the candy dissolves.  Does the candy in hot water dissolve faster?
What’s happening:
Because molecules move faster when it’s hot, the candy in hot water dissolves much faster.  The candy in ice water might take all night to dissolve.
*Loralee Leavitt is the author of the new hit book, Candy Experiments. Thank you to Loralee for being the first guest post! If you’re interested in being a guest on Squarehead Teachers, contact us via email at squareheadteachers [at] gmail [dot] com.

Candy Experiments (Way Fun Summer Science Activities For Kids)

Kids love summer time. Parents love learning. Kids love candy. The perfect combination? Candy Experiments! If you haven’t heard about this new hit book (available January 2013), you’re totally missing out. 

Make giant gummi worms, turn M&Ms into dazzling comets, grow candy crystals, and turn cotton candy into slime! You’ll find all these experiments and more, plus simple scientific explanations, in the book Candy Experiments!

Candy Experiments, by Loralee Leavitt, shares experiments from the popular website, Candy Experiments, as well as experiments that have never been published before. Learn how to separate candy colors, make candy cane stripes in bowls of water, sink marshmallows, and float taffy. Each experiment includes color photos and scientific explanations. Your kids will love experimenting with their candy, and they’ll learn something, too!

But how do you know kids will like the experiments? Because kids planned and did them! The author writes this about how it all started: “One day when she was sorting through her Halloween candy, my daughter asked a life-changing question: “What would happen if I put these Nerds in water?”  I got her a glass, and she conducted her first candy experiment.” Read more about these little scientists here.

This is such a great collection of fun activities for kids (especially in the summer or after Halloween). When I heard about it, I went on Amazon right away and bought 3 copies (I just Had to get one for my mom and sister, also teachers). When I got it in the mail, I spent an hour looking through it, reading it and planning fun summer activities.