Saturday, July 23, 2011

Candy Experiments in Summer Sun

With 13 kids to entertain, a sunny summer afternoon, and a handy picnic table, it was time for candy experiments!

Ingredients for a successful outdoor session
* washable table
* large bucket of water (you won't want to be running to the tap all the time)
* small pitcher you can refill from the bucket
o for filling cups
o for washing sticky hands
* disposable cups (I recommend clear plastic because you can see through the sides as well as the top)
* bowl of baking soda, with more inside for easy refills
* spoons for soda and for stirring
* sunscreen
* small bowls for candy dispensing (no need to get out all the M&M's; using Minis, we only went through less than 1/2 a cup)
* seltzer water, because kids like watching all the bubbles when they put in the candy
* garbage container or sack (You'll generate a lot of wrappers)
* paper towels

Good candy
* M&Ms for color mixing
* Warheads for acid test
* Nerds for acid test, for bright colors, for looking for sugar crystals in middle
* Taffy, Tootsie Rolls for boat-making

As always, testing for acid was a huge hit, especially when we tried Warheads, Nerds, and Lemonheads (remember to let Lemonheads dissolve for a few minutes before adding soda).

We also competed to see who could shape taffy into boats that would float.  Most boats sank quickly, but a few winners stayed up for several seconds.  An 8-year-old girl was our champion, stretching several boats of Tootsie Roll (one of her secrets was to use at least two pieces), and a 5-year-old girl won for the longest time with a taffy boat.  To make a taffy boat, mold your taffy into a bowl shape, and be sure not to poke holes in the bottom.

Diverting kids with a few bottles of bubble solution might have been be cheaper, cleaner, and a lot less work.  But the kids had a great time (some played with candy for over an hour and a half!), and learned some science, and the candy experiments sure added a splash of color to an otherwise low-key afternoon.

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