Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sticking M's

When I demonstrate candy experiments, floating M's are still one of the biggest crowd-pleasers. Apparently my four-year-old is also entranced by them, because she invented a new floating M's experiment by touching one of the floating M's with her finger:



Who knew you could actually pick them up?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Acid Test for Science Fair

Science fair project: use baking soda solution and purple cabbage indicator to compare candy acidity. Purple cabbage indicator (made by boiling, or soaking, purple cabbage in water) changes color based on pH. If you add a base, it turns blue, and if you add acid, it turns pink. Here's the original color.

First, we dissolved various candies in indicator. The brightest pink are the most acidic.

Then we added baking soda water to each sample to bring it to neutral, and compared how much soda we used for each sample to arrive at an acidity comparison.

One fun little thing: to dissolve the maximum amount of soda in water, we warmed the water up. As it cooled, the soda started to crystallize again. Apparently, our initial solution was a little supersaturated.

Airy Chocolate

This Reader's Digest snippet from 2011 describes how candy makers stretched out the cocoa by adding air: "The price of cocoa is soaring, and candy makers are stretching ingredients by adding air. They say the chocolate is creamier, with fewer calories." Wonder if they're still doing it, and wonder if you can tell the difference when you put the bars in water?

Of course, some chocolate bars are made with lots of air bubbles, like the British aero bar. We floated one once, and had it spinning in nice circles.

Here's a Businessweek article with more info.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gummi Gecko Tails

One gecko went for a swim, and the other stayed dry. One gecko floated in water, showing off hidden air bubbles, and the other gecko kept its secrets. One gecko absorbed so much water it grew, and the other lay by the side of the pool. One gecko swam away (down the drain) and the other was forgotten in a bowl.

One gecko, sitting in a bowl for weeks, got its tail bent out of shape!

(For a few minutes, the tail stuck up at nearly a 45 degree angle. Sadly, after we placed it on a plate, gravity eventually took its course, and our gecko became flat once again.)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Multilingual Conversation Hearts

It shouldn't be a surprise that conversation hearts are made for other languages. But when I opened my new bag of hearts for experiments, it took me a moment to realize that 1) the messages were different than usual and 2) I could still understand some of them because they were in Spanish. Hola, amigo!

How many can you understand?