Homeschool Science: Gummy Bear Osmosis Lab

April 28, 2014
Written by:
Naomi White

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the cool, simple science experiments that are out there (and there are lots!), but one that caught our attention was using gummies to test osmosis. One of our contributors, Jordyn C. Jordyn, performed this gummy bear osmosis experiment with her children, and we will share her results with you below, but if you’d like to perform your own experiment, here is what you will need.

Scientific Terms to Know

A simple definition of osmosis is the passing of a material (like water) through a membrane (a gummy bear). Gummy bears have a chewy texture because of the absence of water. The water is removed during the cooking process due to the gelatin. When a gummy bear is put in water, the gummy becomes a solute and the water becomes a solvent.

Science Behind the Gummy Bear Osmosis Lab

This science experiment lab is supporting the concepts of solutions, solutes, and solvents. A solution is a homogenous mixture of one or more substances. The parts that are mixed to achieve a solution are called the solute and the solvents. In most cases, a sugary substance (sugar or even sugary candy) will dissolve quickly and easily in water. When you dissolve sugar in water, the water is considered the solvent and the sugar is the solute. There can only be one solvent in a solution, but there can be many solutes (gummy bears, sugar, candy, etc).  However, in this science lab we will be using water and several other types of solvents like vinegar, milk, saltwater, or other solvents (liquids)  you have on hand to experiment with. In this experiment, the water or liquid can enter the gummy through the membranes without letting out the sugar. The change that will occur to the gummy bears is osmosis. For a visual explanation, you can watch this science experiment video.

The next concept that is explored in this experiment is osmosis. Osmosis is the spontaneous passage or diffusion of water or other solvents through a semi-permeable membrane. Watch this video on osmosis before getting started on the experiment to help the kids understand the concept of osmosis thoroughly. You may also want to discuss the concept of semi-permeable membranes and if your homeschoolers are old enough you could even try this experiment using eggs! Here is another osmosis experiment video using eggs.

Materials You Need for The Gummy Bear Osmosis Experiment

  • Gummy bears (for experimentation and comparison…and maybe an extra pack for snacking)
  • A small glass for each water/solution
  • Baking soda
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Milk
  • Paper towels
  • Kitchen scale
  • Ruler
  • Paper/Pen
  • Timer

Instructions for Gummy Bear Osmosis Lab

  • Label each glass for a different kind of liquid (tap water, saltwater, sugar water, milk, vinegar, etc.)
  • Add a half cup of water to the tap water glass.
  • Add a half cup of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the saltwater glass. Stir the salt until it is dissolved.
  • Add a half cup of water and 1 tablespoon of sugar to the sugar water glass. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add a half cup of water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the baking soda water glass. Stir until the baking soda is dissolved.
  • Add a half cup of your soda of choice to the soda glass.
  • Add a half cup of vinegar to the vinegar glass.
  • Add a half cup of milk to the milk glass.

**Any of these liquids can be omitted or changed according to your preference.**

  • Weigh and measure a gummy bear and record results.
  • Add one gummy bear to each glass of liquid.
  • Set a timer for 12 hours.
  • After the timer goes off, remove each gummy bear from its solution, weigh, measure, and compare to a new gummy bear.
  • Discuss the results and complete the worksheet (found below).

**To extend the experiment, return the gummies to their original glasses for an additional 12 hours and check results again.**

One Family’s Gummy Bear Osmosis Experiment

“Science is fun at our house, and we decided to try the dissolving gummy bear experiment. We decided to try different liquids and solutions 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, saltwater, vinegar, milk, and baking soda water. We let them sit for 12 hours and then checked on them the next morning to see what had happened.Gummy Bear Science Experiment

Testing Our Gummy Bear Lab Results

We decided to try different liquids and solutions (further expanding on our solubility lesson a.k.a. gummy bear experiment) 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 them sit for 12 hours and then checked on them in the morning to see what had 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.

Scientific Conclusions For The Gummy Bear Experiment

The results were quite surprising to my kids! Instead of dissolving, the gummies grew, some to almost triple their original size! We compared our new gummies to their unchanged counterparts and noted our scientific observations including weight and measurements. The gummy bear that absorbed the most was the one put in plain water.Dissolving Gummy Bears Osmosis Lab

The one that grew the least was the one put in saltwater. 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 that the acid in the vinegar dissolved the gummy bear completely.

The answer to our gummy bear experiment was simple.  Osmosis!  I explained that osmosis is when a liquid (usually water) moves 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.

Then 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!!Gummy Bears Osmosis Lab Printable

We compared our new gummies to their unchanged counterparts and noted our scientific 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 saltwater.  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 that the acid in the vinegar dissolved the gummy bear completely.

This 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. It was the perfect way to bring in some fun STEM learning to our homeschool science. Our gummy bear science project was a success!” – Jordyn C. 

Free Gummy Bear Osmosis Lab Printable!

gummy bear osmosis lab results

 

 

Be sure to download our Gummy Bear Osmosis Experiment Results sheet to have your child record their findings! Happy experimenting!

 

 

 

 

Additional Science Lab Experiments

Science Based Lesson Plans for Kids Who Hate Science

Winter Science Activities for Kids

Unbelievably Fun Homeschool Science

Simple Home Science Experiments

Science Slime Experiments

Soggy Cereal Science Experiment

Grab this Free Science Journal Printable for all your homeschool science experiments!

Naomi White

Naomi White graduated with her B.S. in Christian Elementary Education and went on to earn her Early Childhood Education certification. She has taught preschool and elementary school in both Christian and public schools. She loves to read and write, is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom, and is eagerly awaiting the day her son is old enough for them to start their own homeschool journey. Originally a Georgia girl, Naomi currently lives in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with her family.