4 science experiments for leftover halloween candy

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You can pack a ton of sweet science into a beaker full of Halloween fun.  And this year we decided to gift some to our favorite scientists by BOO’ing It Forward.  Our candy science kit is filled with your favorite treats plus some cool science supplies they can use all year round.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

Halloween Candy Science Kit Supplies Needed

Here’s what you need to put it all together.  Just cram them in however they fit 🙂

  • 1 1000 ml beaker
  • 6-8 fun size SNICKERS®, MILKY WAY® and 3 MUSKETEERS® bars
  • 2 fun size packs of SKITTLES®
  • 2 fun size packs of M&M’s®
  • 2 8 oz. cans of Sunkist®
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 white, round coffee filters
  • 2 small zipper plastic bags
  • 1 straw
  • 2 clothespins
  • 3 disposable pipettes

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

Now…  On to the experiments!

Candy Chromatography

I love this experiment.  Maybe because I love color and science makes it even cooler.  You need:

  • a pack of M&M’s®
  • a straw
  • a coffee filter
  • clothespins
  • water
  • your beaker

First, create your colors by placing a drop of water on a plate for each color you’re going to use.  Then gently place an M&M’s® candy piece in each drop.

 Let sit for a few minutes until the color bleeds off.  Then quickly touch each piece to a 4″ x 3″ piece of coffee filter, leaving some separation from both the bottom and each color.

 Try not to make the dots too big or the experiment will bleed together.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

Mark your filter with the M&M’s® color and draw a line through each dot so you know what was where.

Next make your salt solution by adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to one cup of hot water.  Stir until dissolved.  Then clip your coffee filter to the straw with the clothespins and place in the beaker.  Note where the bottom of the paper is, take the filter out and fill to that line with the salt water solution.  Then place the filter in the beaker to let the colors travel.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

Why does this happen?  It’s called capillary action, which is also known as wicking. It’s the ability for liquids to move through small spaces without any help, even against gravity.  Our liquid, salt water, has greater affinity for some colors so causes those colors to travel further on the coffee filter.

Chocolate Mystery Experiment

Ever unwrap a few fun size pieces of Snickers®, Three Musketeers® and Milky Way® at the same time?  They look almost identical.  So play up their similarities with a little scientific method shell game.  Unwrap one of each and guess which is which.  Make your hypothesis and then enjoy every bite of data collection 🙂  Conclusion? Delicious.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

Foaming Soda Experiment

This is a fun take on a classic science experiment.  Take baking soda and any acid and it will foam up. And Sunkist® soda is acidic 🙂  It’s not candy, but it’s sweet orangey goodness makes it fit with the rest of the experiments.  Don’t you love these creepy Halloween cans, too? That eye kept staring at me all day as I was working on this post!

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

SKITTLES® Solubility Experiment

This is another easy experiment…  Simply drop a SKITTLES® into a variety of liquids and see how it dissolves.  We tried cold water, hot water and vegetable oil.  You can try some of the Sunkist®, too.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

Boo It Forward and Win

Make your own Halloween Candy Scientist BOO Kit and give it to your favorite aspiring STEMist.  And you can BOO It Forward with this free printable card, too.  All you have to do it:

  1. Cut out this “We’ve been BOO’d sign”.

Top 10 Scientific Uses For Leftover Halloween Candy

So the kids fell asleep late last night after finally crashing from their Halloween sugar high. There are smashed pumpkins out on the street, toilet paper in the trees, and still 3 to 5 pounds of candy remaining per child. The pumpkins and toilet paper can be cleaned up… but what do you do with all that candy? You can’t possibly eat it all, right?

Well go ahead and give it a your best shot. But a week from now when it’s still around and you can’t stand the sight of the stuff, you’ll be happy to know that science once again has a solution.

What could be a better combination than candy and science? (Well, except for chocolate and peanut butter, of course.) Take a handful of scientific principles, mix them liberally with a pile of leftover candy… and Voila! Yummy, sugary, scientific goodness!

So grab a chocolate bar, and enjoy. Candy isn’t just for eating anymore.

10. Marvel in the engineering brilliance and efficiency of the shape of M&M’s.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

But M&M’s have developed a whole new group of fans in the science community, and it has nothing to do with how they taste. It seems that M&M’s are a marvel of packing efficiency, and are actually leading to the next generation of design for heat shields and reduced-porosity glass with exceptional transparency.

It seems that the simple act of pouring a bag of M&M’s into a bowl illustrates the propensity of squashed or stretched versions of spheres snuggle together more tightly than randomly packed spheres do. Really, it’s been proven… with bags and bags of M&M’s, and hours of study from talented and dedicated grad students.

According to Sidney R. Nagel of the University of Chicago. “This work is really beautiful. It enhances our understanding of one of the outstanding questions in science – namely, how densely various types of objects can pack together.”

Well said, Sidney. However, don’t be surprised if the University Alumni don’t get a bit upset to discover that part of their generous donations potentially went towards buying candy for grad students to play around with.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

I suppose it makes sense though, right? Before M&M/Mars got into the act, the human body recognized the efficiency of this particular shape when creating platelets. The component of the blood that must be the MOST efficient at packing together densely to create a blood clot are surprisingly shaped similarly to our snuggly-shaped M&M’s.

Don’t believe me, or those geniuses at the University of Chicago? Grab some of those leftover bags of M&M’s; and their plumper, rounder, fruit-flavored cousins, the Skittles; and compare how many of each you can fit into the same space. I bet you’ll find that you’ll be able to squeeze in several more of the sleeker and streamlined M&M’s than you will of the pudgier Skittles. And good news, you’ve used up some of your excess inventory of candy-coated treats.

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9. Add some Spark to the Dark with Wint-O-Green Lifesavers.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

Actually, all hard sugar-based candies emit some degree of light when you bite them, but most of the time, that light is very faint.

This effect is called triboluminescence, which is similar to the electrical charge build-up that produces lightning, only much less grand. Triboluminescence is the emission of light resulting from something being smashed or torn.

When you rip a piece of tape off the roll, it will produce a slight glow for the same reason.

Try these science experiments on leftover Halloween candy

(Mass Appeal) – If you want to use up some leftover Halloween candy, we have four experiments you can try on your sweets! Jenny Powers from the Springfield Museums shows us how to explore science through unwanted candy.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy by Alanna Flood / Jun 9, 2020

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15 Brilliant Ways to Deal with Leftover Halloween Candy

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4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

Trick-or-treating is an odd tradition – you essentially buy a bunch of Halloween candy and then put on a costume and trade the candy. Hopefully, you trade for better candy than you originally bought, but inevitably you end up with some tootsie rolls and lollipops. 

You spread your candy on the counter or floor, sort out the best stuff, and then…

Then, you have to figure out how to deal with all the leftover candy.

  • Somewhere along the way, this got kind of complicated, and now that you’re a parent, you have to figure out the rules for candy in your home.
  • I remember being a kid, thinking I can’t wait until I grow up and then I can eat all the candy I want!
  • Ah, the naivety of our youth.

So now you’re a parent. And while trick-or-treating with your kids is fun, it also means your kids come home with gallons of candy. Or worse, goodie bags.

Maybe you let your kid go crazy and eat whatever they want. Maybe your kids are only allowed one piece a day, or they’re only allowed a certain amount of candy, and they can choose when to eat it.

Maybe you just hate having candy in your house because it creates power struggles, or you don’t want to be tempted to indulge, so you’re just desperate to find a way to get rid of it.

No matter how you handle leftover Halloween candy, this post will give you a ton of new ways to get creative with it! Whether you donate, trade it, or use it for crafts or science experiments, this is the best list of how to deal with leftover Halloween candy:

1. Don’t 

Yup, my first solution is don’t deal with it. Rather than wasting energy and stress monitoring your child’s consumption, choose not to. 

I first heard of this idea in the post, Why You Should Stop Giving So Many F*cks About Halloween Candy, from Beth at The DGAF Mom Blog.

Even if you decide you don’t agree with this idea, please go read Beth’s post. Her information about intuitive eating and letting kids regulate their own eating habits is well-researched, and an included quote from a world-renowned expert details a step-by-step plan you can choose to implement with your kids immediately.

And trust me, I get the hesitation – as parents, we want to help our kids make good choices, and letting them eat all the candy they want seems counter-intuitive. Beth discusses her own hesitations in the post and shares the personal results from her own children.

2. Bring in the Switch Witch

If you just can’t get behind the idea of letting your kids have free reign with the Halloween candy, this idea might appeal to you.

If you haven’t heard of the Switch Witchbefore, you can learn more on the official site, where they sell official dolls and books, and apparently, there’s even an app!

The basic idea is that your child puts their leftover Halloween candy on the front porch when they go to bed, and in the morning their candy has been replaced with a toy/gift.

It’s a concept similar to that of the tooth fairy, but rather than some fairy sneaking into your child’s room and paying for teeth (to what? Build a castle made of teeth? The tooth fairy was always creeped me out…), a witch takes all of the delicious candy your child has worked hard to collect and replaces it with a cheap plastic toy.

So you have to spend more money, but at least there’s no more candy in the house, right?

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4 Science Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy

The jack-o-lantern candles have gone out, the costumes have been discarded, and the spooky décor has been stashed away for next year, but you are still left with the spoils of trick-or-treating: heaps of leftover Halloween candy. Instead of eating it all, why not use it for some science?

Chromatography

The process of separating and analyzing the components of a mixture is known as chromatography.

Chroma is the Greek word for color and what is more colorful than candy?! Often what appears to be a single color dye, especially for brown or black candy, is really a mixture of several different colors.

Anyone who has seen their kids mix many vibrant colored mounds of play dough together to form one unsatisfyingly brown blob knows this to be true.

Separating the colors in candy only takes a few household items. A great duo to start with is a brown M&M and a brown Reese’s Pieces. They both appear to be the same color brown, but as we will see, the colors that blend together to create that brown are very different.

First, dip the candy in water and then use it to paint a stripe about two inches from the end of a strip of coffee filter paper. You may need to do this several times to get a good, clear line.

Alternatively, if you find this to be too difficult, instead wet the candy and run a creased filter over top of it to make the line.

Next place the very tip of the filter strip in a glass of water so that your brown candy streak is just two inches or so above the water line. As the filter absorbs more and more of the water, the moisture will travel up the filter toward your mark. (This could take a few minutes, so you’ll have to be patient.)

As the water climbs up the filter, it will carry the dye with it. Lighter components will be able to travel farther while the heavier components of the dye will get left behind. What differences do you see between the chromatography results for the two candies?

Acids and Bases

When you taste something as sour, that is your brain’s way of telling you that you are eating something acidic. Acids are substances that will donate their hydrogen ions when dissolved in water.

(Note that bases are the opposite of acids: they will accept hydrogen ions when dissolved in water.

) Acids are defined as having a low pH and produce carbon dioxide gas when they react with carbonates (a kind of salt that consists of a carbonate ion).  

Halloween Candy Science Experiments

So you’ve got Skittles, candy bars, M&Ms, candy corn, Peeps, lollipops, and so much more in a big plastic bucket, don’t you? I bet you are looking at it going whoa, that’s a whole lot of candy.

Particularly, a whole lot of candy you don’t want the kids to eat. Believe me when I say we eat our share, but we also enjoy some Halloween candy science activities and STEM projects too.

Simple science experiments for kids are the best!

AWESOME CANDY EXPERIMENTS FOR HALLOWEEN

SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS WITH CANDY

Here we love all types of STEM activities and science experiments, candy or no candy. Halloween is the perfect time for Halloween science experiments and we had a blast this holiday season. The fun isn’t over yet! Check out all that candy you have for a candy science experiment or two.

We had a super successful night of trick or treating, at least 100 pieces of good stuff. We fully checked our load and my son chose to forgo the Great Pumpkin this year. I think his current candy stash was too appealing!

I brought together a list of ideas to use with some of the specific types of candy you probably have in your bucket. If you don’t have these, try your own versions of our Halloween candy science activities. Though some of these candy experiments are classics and definitely should be tried at least once.

Looking for easy to print activities, and inexpensive problem-based challenges? 

We have you covered…

—>>>FREE STEM Activities For Halloween

CANDY SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS

Click on the links in orange below to learn more about the set up of each candy experiment for that type of candy. We all have a favorite candy around here. What’s yours? Can you turn it into a science experiment too?

1.  PEEPS SLIME {TASTE SAFE}

Making ghostly Peeps slime is an awesome activity to do with kids of multiple ages since it combines science and sensory play into one cool activity. Everyone will enjoy the experience!

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Candy Science Experiments & STEM Challenge

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These science experiments are the perfect way to get rid of leftover Halloween candy or to just add something sweet to your science curriculum!

Skittles Density Rainbow

In this fun science experiment you use Skittles candy to create a rainbow in a clear glass or jar. It’s perfect to do after Halloween with leftover candy or in the spring around St. Patrick’s Day. It is a simple way to teach students about density.

  • Materials Needed:
  • Skittles candy
    6 small glasses or jars
    eye dropper
    hot water
  • a tablespoon
  1. Place 2 Tablespoons of hot water in each of 5 glasses.
  2. Place the following number of Skittles in each of the 5 glasses:
  3. 2 red
    4 orange
    6 yellow
    8 green
  4. 10 purple

Wait for the Skittles to dissolve. If you need to speed up the process, microwave each cup up to 30 seconds.

While the Skittles are dissolving, I have students record how many Skittles of each color we are using for the experiment.

We then discuss which color they think has the most sugar and would therefore be the most dense. I then have students predict what color they feel should be on the bottom of the rainbow (the purple because it is the most dense and therefore the heaviest).

  • Once the candy is dissolved, allow the water to cool (cold water is more dense than warm water).
  • Have students help you arrange the glasses from most dense to least dense.
  • Using the eye dropper, transfer the purple water to a new glass or jar.
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Then add the green water to the new jar using the eye dropper and SLOWLY dribble the water along the inside of the glass. If you dump the water in or add it too quickly they will mix together and the rainbow will not form.

Continue to slowly add the remaining colors in order using the eye dropper to form the Skittles density rainbow.

After the experiment, I have students draw pictures of the rainbow and write what they learned (The water with the most Skittles was the most dense because it had the most sugar. The water layered from most dense to least dense.)

Candy Sink or Float Experiment

  1. This simple and fun candy sink or float experiment is the perfect way to teach students about the scientific method and get rid of leftover Halloween candy.
  2. Materials Needed:
  3. a variety of candy bars or candy
    bowl of water
  4. recording page

Show students the candy and pose the question “Do you think the candy will sink or float?”.

Allow students to pick up and observe the candy bars before making their predictions (hypotheses) about each one.

I had each student make their own prediction and record it on a page. They drew a picture beside each candy to show their prediction (drawing a picture and knowing where to place it in the bowl helps reinforce the concept of sink or float).

  • Place each candy bar in the bowl of water to test whether it sinks or floats.
  • Here were the results from our test:
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – sank
  • Three Musketeers Bar – floated
  • Tootsie Roll – sank
  • Kit Kat Bar – floated
  • York Peppermint Patty – sank
  • 100 Grand – sank
  • As we tested each candy bar students recorded the results of the experiment on their pages.

After all the results were recorded it was time to analyze the results. We broke open the candy bars to observe the insides and figure out why the Kit Kat bar and Three Musketeers bar floated. We observed that they both had more air pockets inside and were therefore less dense than water which made them float.

What Dissolves Candy Corn Experiment

Candy corn is one of my favorite treats so I always have a lot of it on hand at Halloween which is why I do several candy experiments with it. Unfortunately it is ALL sugar and one of the worst candies for you, especially for your teeth :(. This experiment is a fun way for students to learn what dissolves candy corn (sugar) the quickest.

Please note that the liquids used for testing can be modified (warm water works best so I advise that be used). These were the ones we had on hand and the students wanted to test.

  1. Materials Needed:
  2. candy corn
    glass jars or glasses
    room temperature water
    vinegar
    oil
  3. pop (or some of you may call it soda, we used Sprite because it was clear)

Fill each jar or class with the same amount of each liquid. We used 1/2 cup which was more than enough. Label each.

  • Ask students to predict which liquid they think will dissolve candy corn the quickest.
  • We recorded our results before beginning the test (experiment).
  • Drop a piece of candy corn in each jar at the same time.

Observe the jars/glasses. You should observe that the candy corn begins to dissolve in the warm water fairly quickly followed by the vinegar. It was bubbling in the pop (soda) but not dissolving quite as quickly as it was in the water and vinegar. It didn’t seem to do much at all in the oil.

  1. You can either wait to see which liquid completely dissolves the piece of candy corn first or take out the pieces after a while to more closely observe the results (this is what I did to make it easier for students to observe and record the results).
  2. In our experiment the warm water dissolved the candy corn the quickest followed by the vinegar, pop, oil.
  3. I had students record the results of the candy experiment on their pages.
  4. Students can also record actual photos of the experiment using Pic Collage.
  5. The Science Behind It:

Water molecules have powerful magnetic properties that break apart the bonds that hold sugar molecules together. They can actually insert themselves between the sugar molecules which is why the sugar (candy corn) breaks apart. Eventually they insert themselves in between all of the sugar molecules dissolving the candy corn.

What Dissolves Candy Corn Experiment (Hot or Cold Water)

Another version of the dissolving candy corn experiment to try is whether hot water or cold water dissolves candy corn the quickest. This is an easier version for younger students.

  • Materials Needed:
  • candy corn
    2 clear glasses or jars
    hot water
  • cold water
  • Before beginning the experiment have students hypothesize which water they think will dissolve the candy corn the quickest and record their predictions.

Place the same amount of hot and cold water in each jar or glass (we used 1/2 cup). Place a piece of candy corn in each glass at the same time.

  1. The hot water starts to dissolve the candy corn piece right away.
  2. Observe the glasses until a piece of the candy corn is dissolved.

Record and discuss the results. Students can draw the results or take photos with their iPads and record the results in an app such as Pic Collage.

  • The Science Behind It:

Water molecules have powerful magnetic properties that break apart the bonds that hold sugar molecules together. They can actually insert themselves between the sugar molecules which is why the sugar (candy corn) breaks apart. Eventually they insert themselves in between all of the sugar molecules dissolving the candy corn.

The heat in the hot water makes the molecules move faster so the water molecules are able to break up the sugar (candy corn) molecules at a faster rate.

Candy Corn Stacking STEM Challenge

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