How It All Began…
We are big science fans in this house. We never miss an opportunity to do a hands-on homeschool science experiment. I thought it would be fun to do something with the extra Valentine’s Day candy we had left over from our Valentine’s Party, so I went rummaging through the kids’ stash and found a decent number of gummy bears. I remembered something I saw on Pinterest about using gummies to test osmosis and thought that sounded like it would be something my kids would eat up (pardon the pun…).
The Science Behind It
Once we dove into the experiment, I realized we were actually testing two concepts here: osmosis and solubility. In the past, any time we have put something in water it has usually dissolved because water is a solvent. A solvent is a liquid or gas that dissolves a solid or liquid resulting in a solution. Based on past experiments, the kids hypothesized that the gummies would dissolve when left in the water.
We decided to try different liquids and solutions (further expanding on our solubility lesson) to see if we would get different results. First, we measured and weighed the gummy bears and recorded our results. Next, we put a gummy bear in plain water, sugar water, salt water, vinegar, milk and baking soda water. We let the bears sit for 12 hours and then checked on them in the morning to see what happened.
The results were quite surprising to my kids! Instead of dissolving, the gummies grew, some to almost triple their original size! The kids all wanted to know what had happened and why they hadn’t dissolved like other water experiments we had tried.
Some More Science
The answer was simple. Osmosis! I explained that osmosis is when a liquid (usually water) moves itself from one side of a membrane to another.
I was met with blank stares and crickets…
Hmmmm….let’s try this again…..
I told them to imagine themselves at the haunted mansion at Disney on a really crowded day. They take you into the little room and cram you all together before the ride starts. Think of how uncomfortable you feel pushing against other people, just wanting to get out. Finally, they open the door and you are able to move away from other people and through the door. This is exactly the same as osmosis. You are water molecules, with the door being the membrane. The water molecules are all crammed up, so they move to where there are none of them, through the membrane. Now they got it! I explained that the gummy bears were not solutes; they were actually polymers and, therefore, were able to absorb the water by osmosis. Cool!!
The Results Are In
We compared our new gummies to their unchanged counterparts and noted our observations including weight and measurements. The gummy bear that absorbed the most was the one put in plain water. The one that grew the least was the one put in salt water. Interestingly, the gummy bears remained completely intact – just larger – with the exception of the one put in vinegar. The gummy bear we put in vinegar did expand but lost all of its gummy bear shape and just became a blob. We believe the acid in the vinegar dissolved the gummy bear completely.
This homeschool science experiment was so easy and so much fun! The kids loved it, and it was awesome to see that they actually retained what they learned. Success!
For more homeschool science fun, check out our themed and monthly STEAM experiments!
Written by Jordyn C. Jordyn is a homeschooling mom of 6 and Supermom in training. She admits, “I am trying to do it all and most days failing miserably. Jordyn invites you to follow her family’s adventures and misadventures at AlmostSupermom.com and at www.facebook.com/almostsupermom.