Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Candy Experiments at Sensational Homeschooling

My guest blog about holiday candy experiments just went up at sensationalhomeschooling.com.  Since my readers can no longer access that site, here's a recap of the article:


At www.candyexperiments.com, we experiment with all sorts of candy to learn science lessons about melting, density, colored dyes, and ingredients.  This month we looked for ways to use up some of our holiday candy and found these two experiments you can try at home:

Chromatography
Many candy colors are made by mixing dyes.  You can separate these dyes with chromatography.  While brown M&Ms are the most fun to separate (they form a rainbow of color), M&M green also separates.

To try chromatography with your green holiday M&Ms:
1. Cut a rectangle of coffee filter paper (about 4" x 2").
2.  Wet a green M&M and dab a spot of color onto the paper, about one inch from the bottom.  
3.  Fill a glass with 1/2 inch of water.
4.  Fold the paper vertically.  Then stand it in the glass, with the color spot above the waterline.  (If the paper doesn't stand up, fold the top over the edge of the glass, making sure the paper still touches the water.) 
5.  Wait a few minutes as water seeps up the paper.  The water will dissolve the color spot and separate it into faint streaks of yellow and blue, with the blue on top.   

Candy Canes vs. Sugar
Candy canes, which are made from a mixture of heated sugar and corn syrup, melt at a lower temperature than table sugar.  Here's how you can see for yourself:

1.  Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat your oven to 250 F.
2.  Place a candy cane and a sugar lump on the baking sheet.
3.  Heat in oven for 5-10 minutes.  What happens to the candy cane?  What happens to the sugar?

Candy Cane Shapes
Warm candy cane is pliable, or easy to bend.  In the factory, straight sticks of warm candy are bent into curved candy canes, before they harden and cool.  You can turn candy canes into other fun shapes by doing this:

1.  Take a square of foil.  Fold it several times lengthwise to make a long strip.
2.  Shape your strip into a funny shape.  You can fold it accordion-style to make a zig-zag, curve it gently up and down into S-shapes, or raise the edges up to form a C.
3.  Lay the candy cane on top of the foil.  Place in oven on baking sheet.
4.  Wait several minutes.  Does your candy cane melt into the shape of the foil? 
(Note: since candy canes vary in size and ingredients, they will melt at different speeds. Check every few minutes; candy canes melted too long will turn into bubbling puddles.)

This holiday season, don't feel overwhelmed by too many holiday treats. Turn them into candy experiments.  Soon the whole family--even you--will be begging for more.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for telling me--I don't think it was private a month ago! Since you can't access the blog, I've posted the entire article here.

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