Be a (Candy) Changemaker

I've known author Laurie Thompson for years, and I'm happy to say that her new book for teens, Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters has a candy game! Here's how you can use candy for a get-to-know-you team event*:

1) Use any item that has lots of pieces and is inexpensive, like candies, chocolate chips, or pennies. Pass it around the group.
2) Tell your team members only "Take as much as you think you will need." Don't tell them what it's for!
3) After the participants have taken their items, tell them that for each piece they took, they must share something about themselves with the team.
If you wish, you can assign categories for different colored items: yellow might mean people have to share something personal about themselves, red might mean they share why they joined the team; green might mean they share something they're good at.

I thought this book would be very useful for a teen wanting to make a difference in the world, whether it's through fundraising, forming an organization to teach Ultimate Frisbee to kids in the Phillipines, doing outreach, raising awareness of an issue like domestic violence, or something else. Laurie includes the basic steps for any effort, including forming a group, finding mentors, creating a mission statement and focusing on a plan, writing and following a budget, making money, doing PR, and more. These kinds of things are also useful for grownups wanting to start a business or try a new venture. As a mom writing about science and trying to raise awareness of nutritional issues, I found a lot of good information that I'll be able to use myself.

*Paraphrased from Be a Changemaker by Laurie Thompson, pg 72

Chromatography pen

When my son used a wet paper towel to wipe up some black dry erase ink, the color spread across the wet paper and separated. Chromatography in action!

You can try chromatography with candy too--it's one of our favorite experiments!

Easter already?

You can now buy your Valentine's candy and your Easter candy at the same time! If you really need a sugar rush...or if you're in a hurry to fry a Cadbury Egg! (see Candy Experiments 2)

Kirby Larson gets the inside scoop on Candy Experiments 2!

Today I'm being hosted on the blog of Kirby Larson, popular children's writer whose novel "Hattie Big Sky" won the Newbery Honor award in 2007. Visit Kirby's blog to learn more about how I wrote Candy Experiments 2 (and which of the experiments were surprises even to me!)

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Candy Cane bubble trap

Here's something else we noticed when we put our candy cane in oil and water.

A candy cane is full of tiny air bubbles (one reason the candy is white, not clear). When it dissolves in water, the air bubbles escape and float to the surface of the water. In this cup, the layer of oil traps the bubbles, slowing them down until they collect together and float to the surface.

(Full disclosure: a few of the bubbles in this cup were trapped there when we poured the oil in.)