What liquid makes a gummy bear grow? What happens when you put gummy bears in water? What is a gummy bear experiment?
A gummy bear will grow when placed in a variety of liquids by using the process known as osmosis. Since the gummy bear water was removed when it was created, when a gummy bear is placed in water the water will move into the bear by osmosis. But in which liquid will the gummy bear grow the most? Find out as we use the scientific method in this gummy bear science experiment!
As one of our favorite science experiments of all time, we call it Gummy Bear 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 For the Gummy Bear Experiment
- osmosis – passing of a material (like water) through a membrane (a gummy bear)
- equilibrium – a state where opposite forces are balanced so one isn’t stronger than the other
- membrane – a thin, soft layer of material that separates two things
- cells – basic building blocks of all things
- semi-permeable – only certain, small molecules can get through
- solute – a substance that dissolves (like sugar in water)
- solvent – a substance that is able to dissolve other substances (like the water that dissolves the sugar)
- gelatin – a food ingredient made from collagen that makes liquids become squishy solids (like jello, marshmallows, gummies, etc.)
- gummy bear – a gelatin substance with no water
Science Behind the Gummy Bear Experiment Explained
This science experiment lab is supporting the concepts of osmosis, equilibrium, 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 use in the experiment.
In this experiment, the water or liquid can enter the gummy through the membrane without letting out the sugar. The change that will occur to the gummy bears is osmosis and the process that it uses is called equilibrium. This process of equilibrium allows water to diffuse from a higher area of concentration to a lower area of concentration. For a visual explanation, you can watch this science experiment video, or use this Gummy Bear Chemistry PowerPoint.
The point of this science lab experiment is to understand the process of osmosis and equilibrium. Watch this video on osmosis before getting started on the experiment to help the kids understand the background concepts thoroughly. Take time to print out the Gummy Bear Osmosis Lab Printables or the Science Experiment Journal Kit at the bottom of this post. 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 and other solvents! We really enjoyed this osmosis experiment using eggs.
It is a good idea to use the same color gummy bear throughout the experiment. We know colors are fun, but when you use different colors, that adds a variable to the experiment. Or in other words, it adds another option or reason for a difference in the end result. However, if we use all the same color and same size gummy bears, then the end results of our experiment will be more reliable.
Materials You Need for The Gummy Bear Experiment
- Gummy bears (for experimentation and comparison…and maybe an extra pack for snacking)
- A small glass for each water/solution
- Baking soda
- Paper towels
- Kitchen scale
Instructions for Gummy Bear Osmosis Lab
- Label each glass for a different kind of liquid (tap water, salt water, 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.
Testing Our Gummy Bear Osmosis 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, saltwater, 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! 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.
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.
Science is All About Trying Again
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, when 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!!
We got out our sheet and compared our new gummies to their unchanged counterparts and noted our scientific observations including weight and measurements. You can clearly see that the gummy bear that absorbed the most was the one put in plain water, while the one that was the one put in saltwater changed the least. Interestingly, the gummy bears remained completely intact, just grew larger, with the exception of the one put in vinegar. We posit that the acid in the vinegar dissolved the gummy bear completely into this gummy blob.
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.
Gummy Bear Experiment Results. Why Did the Bears Get so Big?
Well, we already know from the introduction that water diffuses from an area of high concentration of water molecules to an area of low water concentration. At the beginning of the experiment, there is less water and more gelatin inside each gummy bear. As time goes on, this changes and the gummy bear begins to act as a sponge.
In the last part of this experiment, water moves into the Gummy Bear, where there are fewer water molecules, making it swell up. The water keeps moving until the water molecules are evenly spaced out (for example: when they have reached equilibrium). The molecules will stop diffusing when they reach equilibrium or when there is the same concentration of water molecules in the gummy bears as there are outside of the gummy bears.
Start Here: Print Your Gummy Bear Experiment Worksheet pdf
Every good experiment makes use of lab notes. We’ve compiled a set that will help you work through this experiment and learn the science behind it. This set includes:
- Gummy Bear Science terms to define.
- Gummy Bear Science experiment chart.
- Gummy Bear Science Notes
- Gummy Bear Science Experiment Follow Up Questions
Additional Science Lab Experiments
Print This Free Science Experiment Journal
This printable works for all your science experiments whether they are from Homeschool.com or a curriculum provider!
Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been a part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional school and homeschool became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, editor, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children in Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience to help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected]