Valentine’s Day is a sweet holiday in more ways than one! With so much sugar surrounding this time of year, why not use some to create engaging, kid-friendly experiments at home with your little scientist? These three hands-on projects can help your student think scientifically while also having fun some Valentine-themed fun.
Test candy in liquids
Too much candy floating around the house? Grab a handful of small pieces, like conversation hearts, to test what happens to them in different liquids. You’ll need a few clear cups and an assortment of kid-safe liquids from your kitchen, such as water, clear soda, milk, tonic, and oil. Pour equal amounts of liquid in each cup and give your budding scientist a sheet of paper to make predictions. If dropped in the cups, will the candies float? If so, in which liquids? Will the candies dissolve? Which liquid will make the candies dissolve the fastest? Will the liquid change colors? After your student has his or her hypotheses, drop the candies in and see what happens!
Build toothpick structures
This experiment is equal parts STEM education and friendly competition! Challenge your student to create a structure using only toothpicks and Valentine’s Day-themed gummy candy. Toothpicks can go into the gummies to act as connectors—but give your student a chance to figure that out on his or her own first.
Once everyone is on board, it’s time to add a challenge! If you have multiple children participating, you can work to see who can create the tallest structure without it tipping over. If there’s one child creating a structure, set a certain challenge—perhaps the structure needs to be as tall as the cereal box or strong enough to hold an orange. When structures tip over or crush under the weight, have a conversation about what your student(s) think caused this to happen and what changes could fix it in the future.
Grow sugar crystals
Sugar crystals, also known as rock candy, are a fun and delicious way to see science at work in your kitchen. By creating a supersaturated sugar water solution—meaning in this case, by getting more sugar to dissolve in hot water than it could in cold water—you can easily grow your own candy over the course of a week on your countertop.
Tons of variations are available online (candy on strings, candy in shapes, candy on sticks, etc.), but each follow the basic guideline of heating sugar into water and letting it lower back to room temperature. For an extra dose of the scientific method, have your student check on his or her crystal daily and take notes of its progress. How big did it get today? How big do you think it will be tomorrow? Add Valentine’s Day-themed food coloring to make this science experiment even more festive!
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