Not just a fun snack for kids, gummy bears also make great topics for science experiments. Consisting mainly of sucrose, gummy bears are easy to work with because of their minimal ingredients. They are small, colorful and kid-friendly. These inexpensive treats can be used in density experiments, provide an explosive show using potassium chlorate and teach genetics in a fun, tasty way.
Gummy Bear Density
The main ingredients in gummy bears are sucrose, sugar and gelatin, giving them a rubbery texture. The gummy bear density experiment is an excellent option for young children. This project attempts to determine what will happen to the gummy bear if placed in water. The experimenter must decide if the bear will become larger, shrink or remain the same size. To design the project, simply have the children measure each of their bears and record sizes. Then, have them place the bears in individual cups of eight ounces of water. Cover the cups with aluminum foil and allow them to sit overnight. When the children return, have them remeasure their bears to determine density.
Exploding Gummy Bears
Exploding gummy bears is an experiment best suited for high school students in a chemistry lab. Potassium chlorate is required for this experiment so caution must be exercised. For this experiment students will need a test tube with holder, a gummy bear, latex gloves, tongs, 10 grams of potassium chlorate and a torch. The potassium chlorate is added to the test tube. The test tube should then be placed in the test tube holder. Using the torch, the experimenter heats up the potassium chlorate until it is melted and bubbling. Using the tongs, carefully place the gummy bear into the test tube and quickly move your hand out of the way. Standing approximately two feet from the test tube is advised. The gummy bear will react very explosively with the potassium chlorate as the sucrose breaks down and oxidizes. The potassium chlorate is extremely hot and will cause burns to the skin so keep all body parts away from the testing area once the bear has been placed and until the explosion has ended.
Offering a variety of color, gummy bears are very useful in genetics experiments. This experiment uses gummy bears to assist in teaching genes, traits, reproduction, and variation in genetics. For this experiment, eight gummy bears of three selected colors are needed. Green, red and yellow work best. A bowl or Petri dish is used as a simulated environment. The green bears represent a dominant gene, the red bears are recessive to green bears and equal to yellow bears and the yellow bears are also recessive to green and co-dominant to red bears. Combining red and yellow bears will result in an orange. The experiment is used to determine the amounts of combinations possible to result in given colors: green, red, yellow and orange.
Temperature Changing Gummy Bear
Involving no chemicals, this experiment is ideal for younger children. With the main component of gummy bears being sugar, it's expected that when heated a gummy bear will dissolve. However, this experiment is used to determine temperature and time needed to dissolve the gummy bear. Have students record guesses on oven temperature and time it will take to dissolve the bear. Record the data and set aside. Using multiple attempts with various temperature settings, the researcher will progress until the correct time and temperature is discovered. This experiment requires only gummy bears, an oven and a deep aluminum sheet in which to place the bears.