Looking for a fun candy science experiment?! Learn about osmosis with this oh-so-simple gummy bear science experiment!
Go ahead! Raid your candy stash – and this time you can do it in the name of science!
Follow the simple step-by-step below and then grab 30 more easy-to-follow science experiments kids will beg to repeat (plus a no prep science journal to keep track of their results!) in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!
To prep, I gathered 2 small bowls, water, salt and gummy bears, of course. It couldn’t get much simpler than that.
Growing Gummy Bears
In this candy science experiment, we compared gummy bears left in water to those placed in salt water.
To get started, we needed to make about a cup of supersaturated salt water solution. So, we added salt, a little bit at a time, to a cup of boiling water until no more salt dissolved. (Please use caution when allowing your little one to work with hot water.)
Once the water couldn’t hold anymore salt, we let it cool in the fridge. If you use warm water for your experiment, you could melt your gummy bear.
When the salt water cooled, it was time to fill the bowls. My kids poured a little salt water in one bowl and plain tap water in another.
Next, we gathered our gummy bears and compared them to pick ones of similar size.
They placed a couple gummy bears in the salt water and a couple in the plain water. They wanted to eat the remaining gummies, but I reminded them we needed to save them as the controls. We wanted to be sure we could compare what happened to the ones we put in the different water solutions.
Now all we had to do was wait!
We started this experiment in the evening so we waited overnight.
You’ll need to let them soak for several hours, but I wouldn’t leave them for longer than overnight or they might fall apart on you.
My 5 year-old predicted the gummy bears in the plain water would expand and the ones in the salt water would shrink.
This is what we found the next morning….
The yellow bear was the control, the red was the salt water gummy and the green was soaked in plain water.
Both kiddos were surprised to see how much bigger the bears soaked in plain water had become. They noticed the bears soaked in salt water were a little bit bigger but not that much.
My curious 3 year-old decided he needed to eat his gummy and popped a salt water gummy in his mouth. Oh, was he surprised when it was salty on the inside!
The Science Behind Growing Gummy Bears
To make gummy bears, sugar, gelatin and flavor are dissolved in a warm water solution.
As the solution cools, water leaves the gelatin solution and the bears become firm but chewy. (Not all the water leaves the gelatin however, otherwise the gummy bears would be rock hard.)
It’s this little bit of water that makes the gummy bears act as a solution of water, one with a lot of sugar dissolved in it.
The plain water in the bowl, however, had very little dissolve in it. We’ve learned from our egg experiment (the one with the dissolved shell) that different solutions of water will want to balance each other.
The plain water, with very little dissolved in it, will move toward the solution of water with a lot dissolved in it, the gummy bear.
This movement of a solvent from one of lower concentration to higher concentration is called osmosis.
The force behind that movement of water is called osmotic pressure.
In the bowl with the salt water, we tried to balance the amount of stuff (salt) dissolved in the water with the amount of sugar dissolved in the gummy bear.
Since our gummy bear placed in the salt water solution did expand a little bit, we knew our salt water solution did have a lot dissolved in it but not quite as much as the gummy bear did.
So, a little water moved into the gummy bear to balance the two solutions.
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