Learning is Sweet!

October 6, 2014


Every store is now overflowing with sweet treats in anticipation of Halloween. Rather than despair the sugar overload that our students will surely experience this month, why not use candy as a motivational tool for STEM activities? We guarantee that everyone will sit up straight and listen when they see the “equipment” they will be using to solve problems. The “S” in STEM is for Science The list of experiments using candy is extensive. One great source is the American Chemical Society. Their National Chemistry Week theme for October 19-24 is “The Sweet Side of Chemistry”, and their website has numerous interesting experiments and supporting videos. From marshmallows to Pop Rocks, this is a tasty source for candy experiments. Some examples are: Density in Action: Can You Sink A Marshmallow? Air bubbles are the reason marshmallows are puffed. How can you sink something that is full of air? Investigating Osmosis Using Water and Gummy Bears. Gummy bears, water, beakers, scales, and a ruler (or other measuring device) are all you need for this simple experiment. How Much Sugar is in Bubble Gum?Ready. Set. Chew! Design your own procedure to figure out how much sugar is in your favorite brand of gum. Explore these and other lessons at:     http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/students/highschool/chemistryclubs/activities/candy-chemistry.html In addition, we found a book of candy experiments that is both helpful and well written: Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt http://www.candyexperiments.com/p/experiments.html (Her next book Candy Experiments 2 is being released on December 2nd) One more resource is from the amazing treasure filled site of the Exploratorium Museum http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/recipe-rockcandy.html The T in STEM is for technology, and Steve Spangler has created a number of fantastic You-Tube videos entitled Sick Science. They are very professional and explore a wide variety of topics including candy. Here’s one on Candy Chromatography that was terrific. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRktrkp5mqI Bite Size Science also has short videos hosted by food engineers. This one explains how cotton candy is made. It is brief, to the point, and a great attention grabber at the beginning of a lesson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm6RcneM7kA&feature=youtu.be Or maybe you would like to take your class on a virtual tour of the Jelly Belly factory? https://jellybelly.com/info/Virtual_Tour/virtual_tour Hungry yet? We can’t forget about the E in STEM can we? Candy and cookies can be great building materials for structure and vehicles. We have found that using sweets for materials keeps everyone focused with the task so we created a bundle of activities called Edible Engineering. Using eight lessons, teacher guides, rubrics, an engineering design process poster, and student handouts, you will be ready to go after taking a quick trip to the grocery store for easily obtainable items. Edible Engineering combines physical science and food items to captivate even the most reluctant participant. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Get-Caught-with-a-Bundle-of-Edible-Engineering-YUM-1184941 Want to try one of our lessons? We have a freebie sample lesson so you can “get a taste” of the activities. Sweet STEM-tas-tic Rovers challenges the students to build a rover out of candy and cookies. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Edible-Engineering-with-Sweet-STEM-tastic-Rovers-1312954 And finally the letter “M” in STEM is for Math Candy lends itself to many math activities including measurements, patterns, computation to fractions, graphs, and percentages. Author Jerry Pallotta has published several colorful books on math and candy.
  • The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book
  • Twizzlers Percentages Book
  • Hershey's Milk Chocolate Weights And Measures Book
  Barbara McGrath has also written several M&M themed books for math, on of which is:
  • The M&M's Brand Color Pattern Book
In addition AIMS Educational Foundation has a great graphing activity for M&M’s. http://www.aimsedu.org/item/da2837/math-with-m-m-s-candies/1.html Wait…hold your chocolates and peppermints!! Could we also add the letter A and have a STEAM activity? You bet! How about a Confection Invention? Most children are familiar with the cartoon-like PEZ dispensers. Inside the long stem are rectangular candy treats that pop out. Each season they introduce new heads for their iconic dispensers. What if students could design a new candy dispenser? Would it be a simple candy dispenser, a bubble gum machine, or a large contraption filled with many choices? Students will only be limited by their imaginations as they design and illustrate their ideas for a gadget that might even impress Willy Wonka! So grab those bags of Halloween candy and get ready for an enthusiastic audience as you teach your students that learning really is sweet! We hope you Get Caught Engineering this month! Wendy (who loves Red Vines)  and Cheryl ( who loves Sour Patch Candies)

What They Say


Wendy came to Bellevue Arts Museum to co-lead our Full STEAM Ahead! Summer Camp in August 2014. This camp was a huge success thanks to her expertise, experience, and warmth working with the campers throughout the week…

Educational Outreach Director, The Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Washington