Monday, December 22, 2014

Stripes or no stripes?

Are these stripes dissolving or not?



We put the candy cane in a glass filled with water, and then with oil. The candy cane dissolves in the water, making the stripes disappear. But sugar and corn syrup, the main ingredients in candy canes, don't dissolve well in oil. Even when the candy cane rests in oil for several days, the stripes remain. Meanwhile, the segment on the bottom eventually dissolves away, leaving a candy cane hook hanging from the side of the glass.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas candy cane optical illusion?

No, we didn't slice this candy cane in half. Instead we put it in a glass filled with a layer of water and a layer of oil. Since each medium (water, oil, and air) slows down light a little bit differently, the light bends a little bit where the air meets the oil, and where the oil meets the water. The result? A candy cane that looks chainsawed into segments.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rotten Pumpkin?



Do you still have a jack-o'-lantern on your porch? (We do, because this year's cold snap meant it froze instead of mouldering right away.) If so, you may want to check out the book "Rotten Pumpkin." This picture book shows us what happens to the pumpkin after Halloween, with mice, slugs, medicinal mold, and other forces of nature. A kid who likes candy experiments might just be the kind of kid who will look at this book and say "Cool!" instead of "Gross!"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Candy Experiments 2 book launch!

I'll be having a signing for Candy Experiments 2 at Barnes and Noble in Bellevue at 2:00 pm on Sat, Dec 6. Come check out my diving candy, warty licorice, and other eye-popping new experiments. Would love to see you there!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween Hiss

It's not Halloween ghosties or goblins doing the hissing--it's the Halloween haul! This Hershey's mini chocolate bar hisses in the microwave.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Laffy Taffy experiments or Halloween breakfast?



Just scrambled eggs with a little red food coloring, to make a nice orange concoction that shines like taffy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Solar Jack o' Lantern Power!

How did you celebrate last week's partial solar eclipse? We flipped a pair of binoculars to project the eclipse onto paper, and turned the glowing crescents into jack-o-lantern eyes!





Monday, October 20, 2014

Smaller than an M&M

It's not an M&M logo, and it's not an insect. This display from the Pacific Science Center's current exhibit of Ripley's Believe it or Not shows a life-sized model of a Amau Child Frog. As you can see, it's smaller than an M&M!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Candy Experiments 2

I just got my advance copy of Candy Experiments 2, and it's beautiful!



My oldest daughter is disappointed that I didn't give her credit for inventing one of the best experiments, how to use food coloring and a secret ingredient to turn a red and white gummy worm completely blue. So for the record--that one was her idea!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Twist on sink and float (always something new)

At one of my library activities this summer, I invited kids to sink a marshmallow by squashing it to make it denser than the water--I try to explain to them that to make something more dense you either have to make it smaller or make it heavier. Then I invite them to experiment with water displacement and float a piece of taffy by shaping it into a bowl. One of my students made the should-have-been-obvious leap and wrapped the taffy around the marshmallow to make it float!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Road Tripping Signing

I'll be at the University Bookstore in Bellevue on Thursday, July 31, at 6 pm to share ideas from Road Tripping. Come hear some of our crazy travel stories and talk about ways to make road trips easier! (I can also tell you a little bit about Candy Experiments 2.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bloomed and Unbloomed

My husband gave me this: a chocolate bar that had melted and cooled in the car. (He knew I'd love it.) Most of the surface bloomed, but patches stayed dark and shiny. Were these sections protected by the wrapper? Did they fail to melt? Or was there something else going on?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Candy Experiments news

Great news! There's a Candy Experiments book giveaway at squareheadteachers.com, so head on over if you don't have a copy already.

On another note, Candy Experiments 2 just got listed on Amazon, due to be released in December. I can't wait to see it!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

S'mores

I did something unusual with the leftover Halloween candy tonight--fed some to a child. We were making s'mores and needed ingredients, so the sugar-free Peeps Valentine heart went on top of the Hershey Almond bar. The verdict? The chocolate melted first, marshmallow got a little bit melted, and the whole thing was devoured.

Monday, June 2, 2014

USASEF 2014

The USA Science and Engineering Festival was a spectacular success! We taught our experiments, including Sink a Marshmallow, Acid Test, and Find Hidden Candy, to thousands of kids and their parents. I also did an author presentation, an author signing, and an interview on Sirius radio, so we've reached even more people to tell them that candy experiments are both fun and educational.

We had great helpers, including my sister (teaching Find Hidden Candy), homeschool families, and my own family. My kids made great candy experiments teachers.

Thanks to Impact Confections for donating super-sour Warheads!









Monday, May 26, 2014

Candy Experiments 2 notes

Just sent back the corrected manuscript for Candy Experiments 2. My editor made some good catches--I'm so grateful for another good reader to look over the whole thing so I don't make any weird mistakes. For instance, I almost told everybody that cotton candy dissolves faster than other sour candy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Candy Experiments 2 is on its way!

Candy Experiments 2 was just announced by Andrews McMeel! I'm pretty excited about it myself--jumping Pop Rocks, invisible gummy bears, and more. Can hardly wait until it's released next January! http://andrewsmcmeel.com/catalog/detail?sku=9781449461034

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

This is the kind of chocolate news I like!

A March article in the Los Angeles Times explains why dark chocolate has health benefits: apparently bacteria in the gut can turn an indigestible part of cocoa into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart and reduce risk of stroke. Always like hearing that I should eat chocolate!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Scrambled Easter Eggs?

When you microwave Black Forest Juicy Oozers Gummy Cracked Eggs, they melt into "scrambled eggs"!
Pink Juicy Oozer eggs, and a white "egg" that we've "scrambled"

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter experiments in article

Candy experiments--and a crazy Cadbury video--featured in this article.

A Little Easter Bunny Carnage

I have been taking pictures of candy all day long--candy in oil, candy in water, candy out of water... Did you know it's REALLY hard to photograph glass?

Here's one that may or may not make the book.

Video showing how Cadbury eggs are made. Watch around minute 4 to see how two filled halves are stuck together to make one filled egg! (You can skip the first part of the video--there's a lot of hair nets and handwashing which, while I'll glad to learn they do, are not as interesting as the candy part.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Much Chocolate in a Chocolate Easter Bunny?

In the box, this chocolate Easter bunny looks like way more than a kid needs to eat. But, because it's hollow, this 1.75 oz bunny only contains as much chocolate as this set of snack-sized bars.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pop Rocks and TemptationCandy.com

I've been exploring lots of fun things to do with Pop Rocks for the new Candy Experiments book, like watching the tiniest pieces bubble and float. Thanks to www.temptationcandy.com for their generous donation of Pop Rocks to the candy experiments cause!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Enormous Gummy Worm Science Fair Project

This was my very favorite science fair project at our school this year--a 26-inch gummy worm put into water to see what would happen. Apparently it more than doubled in weight, starting at 2 1/2 pounds, and absorbing 3 1/2 pounds of water!

 


This is a second giant gummy worm, showing the size of the original (note that the sample below has had several tail segments chopped off for eager tasters.)



They said it didn't actually grow much in length, but they'd only had it in a bucket of water for the afternoon. Wonder what it would have looked like after two days in a bathtub?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cavity-fighting candy?

In the Dec 27 edition of the week, an article talks about microbiologists in Berlin who are working on probiotic-laced mints that fight tooth decay. Apparently the probiotics used for the candy, like those normally found in yogurt, can "attach itself to and neutralize" the bacteria that turns sugars into teeth-damaging acids. So one day, your candy might actually fight cavities instead of causing them!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Soda Studies and Sponsors

The May edition of the Berkeley Wellness Letter reports that various studies over the past several years have tried to answer this question: "Do sugar-sweetened beverages cause weight gain?" Now, a review of these studies turns up something new: the study's recommendation often depends on who sponsors it.

80% of studies NOT sponsored by food companies found evidence that sugary beverages were associated with obesity. But 80% of the studies that WERE sponsored by food companies, such as Coca Cola found insufficient evidence of an association. That is, if the food company paid for the study, the study usually found that sugary sodas didn't increase weight gain.

So the next time you read about a study in the paper denying that sugary drinks have any effect on body weight, look a little more closely at who did the study and who paid for it. And you might want to avoid sugary sodas.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Time Magazine lists sugar contents

An article on the new WHO guidelines wonders if their 26 g of sugar per day guideline is too extreme, since we eat so many foods like these:

1 can tomato soup: 30 g sugar
1 blueberry muffin: 22 g sugar
I serving Orange chicken: 22 g sugar
1 cup pasta sauce: 20 g sugar
1 cup coleslaw: 23 g sugar


Hidden candy everywhere!

Source: "Sweet Sacrifice: New Guidelines seek to curb our sugar intake." Time Magazine, March 24, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Science Fair

I got to spend the evening presenting a table of experiments at a local elementary school. As always, the kids loved sinking marshmallows to learn about density, even though they were even goopier marshmallows than usual. (Note to self: don't buy the off-brand!) The older kids learn about density, and the younger kids just play the game, but they all enjoy it!

I'm always afraid somebody's going to spill something sticky, and so I try to take precautions and bring lots of paper towels. And somebody did spill something tonight--me! A glass full of water across the table, and though I tried to mop it up, it lingered and got all over the Find Hidden Candy samples, so that they left sticky streaks all over my scales all night. Funny how, though I always worry, none of the kids ever spill anything--just me.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Science Fair Time

Thanks to everybody who's contacted me to ask if you can use candy experiments at your science fair. Go ahead! I just ask that you cite my website/book as your source (you should always cite your sources). If you have time, email me and let me know how it goes.

Here's my roundup of great candy experiment science fair activities.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hearts in Soda

If you put conversation hearts in soda to watch them bob up and down, and then you leave them there for several hours so that they start to dissolve and fountain out when you open the bottle, this is what's left: a lacy mass of former candy.

Licorice

Licorice is now being studied for medical research, and shows promising anti-cancer potential, but also can affect the body's sodium and water balance. (Actual licorice extract only--the red licorice sticks are not the same!)

Berekley Wellness Letter, March 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Color Fun

My daughter mixes Valentine colors as I work on an experiment for a new blog post.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Down the Gummi Tunnel

Gummi worms absorb so much water, and grow so much, that they turn translucent. Looking into the broken section of this piece of gummi worm was just like looking down a tunnel, complete with a ridged ceiling.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pop Rocks, Pixy Stix, and Density

Pop Rocks usually sink in water. But if you stir enough Pixy Stix into the water (making it denser), some of the Pop Rocks float.


Pop Rocks float in Pixy Stix water (green) but sink otherwise (pink)

This is another fun discovery we made when I let kids play around with the candy. Thanks, cousins!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Density Layers

Here's a fun density video from Mocomi.com, showing how honey, water, and oil form layers in a bottle. Even when they shake the bottle or turn it sideways, the layers reform because the honey, oil, and water don't mix.

What would happen if you tried this with a Skittles density rainbow? It wouldn't behave the same way. The Skittles density rainbow works because each layer has a different concentration of sugar. Shake it up, and the sugar water mixes together and can't be separated. All that you're left with is a muddy brown.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mentos/Diet Coke geyser

You'll find the Mentos/Diet Coke geyser in Candy Experiments, because no candy experiments book would be complete without it. I tested different kinds of soda and different kinds of Mentos delivery systems, watched Mentos/Diet Coke videos and TV shows like Mythbusters, and read scientific papers about the various reasons that the soda creates such tall fountains, and asked my parents to photograph it for me. Some things I learned:
  • Experts say that diet cola makes the highest geyser
  • The Steve Spangler Geyser Tube makes a higher geyser than if you just drop Mentos in the bottle. Also, it's nice to be able to start the geyser from a safe distance away, so you don't get sticky.
  • While Mentos make the very best geyser, bumpy Nerds jelly beans are a good runner up, because of the extra surface area.
You'll find more information in Candy Experiments.

This experiment has been around for years, and there are lots of fun versions of it on the internet.