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By Audra D.

Gummy bears are always fun to eat, but they can be even more fun to experiment with! Gummy bears are the star of this science experiment that helps to demonstrate the concept of osmosis. This experiment needs to sit overnight to work, so why not enjoy some of the leftover bears while you wait? Or check out these titles from Hoopla to hold you over Ada Twist, Scientist and Silly Food Science.

Materials needed

  • Gummy bears 
  • 4 plastic cups (clear works best for observations)
  • Coloring utensils and paper
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Tablespoon for measuring 
  • Ruler

Instructions

  1. Start by measuring a few of your gummy bears with your ruler to find their height before the experiment. Record this on a piece of paper to use as your datasheet.
  2. Next, select 4 gummy bears to use in the experiment. It may be easier to use four different colors. Make 4 boxes on your data sheet and draw a picture of each gummy bear in one. 
  3. Fill 3 of the 4 cups with about ½ cup of water. Fill the 4th cup with ½ cup of vinegar. Label the vinegar cup. 
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to one of the water cups. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to another. Label the cups as you go. The last cup will remain just water. 
  5. Once all 4 cups are full and labeled, add a gummy bear to each cup. See if a reaction happens. Label what color gummy bear is in each cup on your data sheet. 
  6. Let your gummy bears soak overnight. The next day, take out each gummy bear and see what has happened to it! Draw a picture of the result in each box of your datasheet and measure each bear and record the new height.

    Note: While you may be tempted to eat any extra gummy bears, you should save a few as a control. Then you can see how much your bears have grown in the experiment! Do not eat the gummy bears that have been a part of the experiment when you are done.

    Questions to ask

    • Does the amount of time the gummy bear is in the liquid change the results? Put your gummy bears back into their cups for another day and see what happens!
    • What other liquids will affect gummy bears? Try this experiment again with some other household liquids such as milk, juice, soda, baking soda water, etc.

    How it works

    Gummy bears are made of gelatin, so they do not dissolve in liquid, like many other sugary candies. In this experiment, the gelatin in the gummy bear acts like a cell membrane in living cells. The gummy bears get bigger or smaller after soaking in the liquids because of a process called osmosis. Osmosis lets water pass in or out of a cell’s membrane in an attempt to equalize the molecules inside and out. Water goes into the gummy bear in sugar water and out of the gummy bear in salt water to try and put things in balance, causing your gummy bears to swell or shrink!

      Audra D.
      Experience Facilitator

      Audra D.


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