Monday, October 31, 2011

Melting

In case I don't get around to adding this to the experiments page, here's instructions for candy melting fun.

Oven:
Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil
Unwrap your candy and put it on the sheet. (Caution: never melt a jawbreaker!)
Place in low oven (300-350 F) and wait to see what happens.

Microwave: use a microwave-safe plate and watch your candy (not jawbreakers) as you heat it. Most candy melts in a minute or less. If you heat it too long, you might scorch your candy or even your plate, so choose your dishes carefully and keep a close watch.

You might be surprised at what melts and what doesn't!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Outsmarted Twice!

After the children's Halloween party tonight, my daughter asked if they could eat some of their candy. "Lots of candy!"

As a candy experimenter, I try to keep my children from gorging on candy. But I didn't want to just say no. "Sure," I said. Noticing that she was contorting her face in very odd ways, I remembered some memoir I'd read in which the writer could never master the Mr. Spock eyebrow trick. "If you can raise only one eyebrow." Ha! Beat that impossible task! She promptly did.

I couldn't renege--as she reminded me several times on the way home, "We don't lie in our church, Mommy!" And her proposal, that each child could eat one mini candy bar and share in the contents of two mini packs of M&M's, was still conservative under the circumstances. I agreed to the deal, as long as she would give me all the brown M&M's for my upcoming class demonstrations on chromatography. "Just the plain ones? not the peanuts?" she clarified, and, feeling magnanimous, I agreed.

And that was how I learned that some packs of M&M's are defective. I.e., incomplete. I.e., no browns.

Maybe next time I'll just keep my mouth shut.

Drunken Gummi Bears

A Detroit newstory, which I saw mentioned at candyprofessor.com, warns parents that teens are now soaking gummi candy in vodka so that they can smuggle alcohol around. While I would not recommend soaking anything in alcohol, it is pretty fun to soak gummi candies in water. They absorb so much water, they actually expand.

Leaf chromatography experiment

There's no candy involved, but Scientific American has a great chromatography experiment with autumn leaves. It takes a little while longer than M&M chromatography, so be prepared.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Candy Experiment in Scientific American

A friend just emailed me this article in Scientific American. It's an experiment which tests the effect of evaporation on melting chocolate (you wrap one chocolate bar in a dry paper towel and one bar in a wet paper towel to compare how fast they melt).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hearts Fading

When we first tested hearts in the window to see if they would fade, only the pink ones faded quickly. But after a few more weeks, more colors had faded as well.




This heart used to be purple. The other side, exposed to the sun, has faded completely. On this side, the bottom of the heart, the edges have faded from sunlight, leaving only the untouched purple spot in the middle.





The blue candy heart on the left has faded noticeably. Compare it with the unfaded heart on the right.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

T-Shirts Available

So many people asked about our T-shirts last year at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC that I've decided to make them available. If you'd like to tell the world you do candy experiments, you can order shirts here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Family Experiments with Candy Discards

An article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal describes why one family does candy experiments. After the Halloween-loving father helps his kids sort their candy "according to awesomeness," the kids won't eat the discards. So there's nothing left to do but experiment with it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Candy Experiments on TV

The cable show NorthWest Families, which airs on Northwest Cable News, just did a segment on candy experiments. They're right--candy experiments ARE a great way to use Halloween candy!

Here's the candy experiments video. If it doesn't work, try this
link.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zotz

Zotz candies bubble when you bite into their super-sour center. How come?

A look at the ingredient list reveals the answer. Besides sugar and corn syrup, colors, and flavors, the candy contains malic acid, sodium bicarbonate, and tartaric acid. In other words, it's just an acid-baking soda reaction.

Here's a video of Zotz in water.



If you can't view the video, here's my six-year-old's illustration of the process. It's almost as good as the video (says his mother).




Next time you try Zotz, remember to enjoy the bubbles. You're eating a self-contained acid test!

Candy Experiments in new article

An article in LakeInTheHillsPatch mentions candy experiments as one way to use up candy experiments, saying "Older kids will have a blast running experiments with their candy. Check out CandyExperiments.com for some cool science experiments that go beyond exploding Mentos in Coke..."

It's always fun to be mentioned, and I agree that older kids will have a blast with candy experiments. But younger kids do too! Even my toddlers loved dumping candy in water and stirring, stirring, stirring. In fact, my young son could go through an entire Halloween haul in one evening, just dumping it all into a bowl of water to make "candy soup."

One comment in this article mentioned that many military organizations do not want candy shipped to them. If true, this would put a crimp in those dentist buy-back programs. More investigation required.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Candy Experiments used in childrens' hospitals

Recently the organization Hope and Healing through Science used candy experiments as part of their ongoing series of science lessons with hospitalized children at Duke and UNC Children's Hospitals. Looks like they all had a great time!

You can read about their candy experiments, as well as other fun science projects they've done, at their blog.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jawbreaker Rings


Since it's kind of hard to bisect a jawbreaker, I'm thinking I shouldn't put the experiment in the book. But isn't the result beautiful?



The "tree-rings" come from the process of panning the candy.