Gummy Bear Science Experiments

Katelyn Michaud
gummy bears

Mom always said never play with your food, but that wouldn't be any fun! Using fun food, like gummy bears, is a great tool to teach kids about the basics of chemistry.

The Amazing Growing Gummy Bear

The amazing growing gummy bear is a simple and fun experiment for children under the age of 12. The set up will take under an hour, but the experiment will run for at least 48 hours.

While most sugary candy dissolves in water, gummy bears are made with gelatin, which prevents the bears from dissolving. The gummy bear experiment is a great way to teach kids about osmosis. Osmosis is the process when water moves from a greater concentration of water to a lower concentration of water, such as the gummy bear. Try the experiment and see what happens!

Materials

  • Gummy Bears
  • Three glasses of water
  • One tablespoon of salt
  • One tablespoon of sugar
  • Ruler
  • Calculator
  • Kitchen scale
  • Paper towels
  • Pen and paper
  • Clock or timer

Instructions

  1. Select three gummy bears of the same color.
  2. Measure the length, height and width of each gummy bear and write it down.
  3. Weigh each gummy bear and write it down.
  4. Label each glass with its contents: water, salt water or sugar water.
  5. Fill the glass labeled water with one-half cup of plain water.
  6. Fill the glass with labeled salt water with one-half cup of water. Add and mix in one tablespoon of salt until all the salt has dissolved.
  7. Fill the glass labeled sugar water with one-half cup of water. Add and mix in one tablespoon of sugar until all the sugar has dissolved.
  8. Add a gummy bear to each glass and note the time.
  9. Wait 12 hours, measure and weigh each gummy bear.
  10. Replace the gummy bears back into their glasses.
  11. Check back after 24 hours, measure and weigh each gummy bear.
  12. Replace the gummy bears back into their glasses.
  13. Check back after 48 hours, measure and weigh each gummy bear.
gummy bears in glasses of water

How Does It Work?

What happened to the gummy bears? Why do they grow instead of dissolving like other candies? Gummy bears contain gelatin which is the same ingredient in Jell-O. Once the water and gelatin have cooled, the water in the gummy bears is drawn out leaving behind a delicious solid candy bear.

Gelatin is a long chain-like molecule that twists to create a solid form. When a gummy bear is placed in a glass of water, it becomes the solute. The solute is the dissolved material in the solution. The water is the solvent. Since the gummy bear does not contain water, when it is added to a glass of water, the water moves into the gummy bear by the process of osmosis.

Salt is a much smaller molecule than gelatin. There is more salt molecules in the water mixture than there are in the gummy. The water molecules will move towards the salt molecules to even out the number of water and salt molecules in the solution. That's why the gummy bear in the salt water doesn't grow that much if at all. What happened to the gummy bear in the sugar water?

The Amazing Growing Gummy Bear Part II

Now that the kids have learned what happens to the gummy bears in water and salt water, it's time to find out what gummy bears do in other solvents. The experiment doesn't need to be fancy, just find other liquids in the kitchen, like vinegar, milk, vegetable oil, or anything else that can be found in the pantry and refrigerator.

Materials

  • Gummy Bears
  • Glasses or bowls
  • Vinegar
  • Milk
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Other liquids found in the kitchen (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Calculator
  • Kitchen scale
  • Paper towels
  • Pen and paper
  • Clock or timer

Instructions

  1. Select three (or more depending on the number of solvents) gummy bears of the same color.
  2. Measure the length, height, and width of each gummy bear and write it down.
  3. Weigh each gummy bear and write it down.
  4. Label each glass with its contents.
  5. Fill the glass labeled with its liquid contents.
  6. Add a gummy bear to each glass and start the timer.
  7. Wait 12 hours, measure and weigh each gummy bear.
  8. Replace the gummy bears back into their glasses.
  9. Check back after 24 hours, measure and weigh each gummy bear.
  10. Replace the gummy bears back into their glasses.
  11. Check back after 48 hours, measure and weigh each gummy bear.
gummy bear comparison

Osmosis Made Easy

The amazing growing gummy bear experiment is a fun and simple experiment to teach children the basic principles of osmosis. By using colorful and delicious gummy bears, kids can see how water moves in and out of the bear. We just don't recommend eating the bears after they have been in salt water or vinegar!

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Gummy Bear Science Experiments