This is another fun homeschool science lab that can be done along with Candy Lab #1 – Acidic Properties or it can act as a stand-alone lab. This is a fun lab that can be done at any time of the year, though I try to reserve some Halloween candy for labs just like this. It’s also a great supplement to any homeschool science curriculum, and it’s a safe one for the kids to experiment with.
In this homeschool science lab, the kids will learn about solutions and dissolving. Start by brainstorming with the kids, asking them what a solution is. Answer: A solution is a mixture where one substance is dissolved in another. Then, ask them what dissolving means. Answer: Dissolving is when a substance (or solute) passes into the solution.
The only thing to watch out for in this homeschool science lab is the use of rubbing alcohol. It should not be consumed, and kids should avoid any contact with it. Parents, please pour the rubbing alcohol and watch that the kids don’t stick fingers into it. Rubbing alcohol is also flammable, and should be kept away from open flames or the stove. Protective clothing, including gloves and goggles, should be work while doing this lab. Please see the lab rules for more information.
- M&M candies (or similar hard candy-coated candies)
- Dixie cups
- Vegetable oil
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hand out some M&M candies and small cups with 15 mL (3 tbsp) of water in them.
- Instruct the kids to touch their fingers to the water, then touch the candy. What happens to the color? Answer: The candy coating begins to dissolve and you see the colored water on their fingers.
- Next, fill one cup per child each with 15 mL (3 tbsp) of vegetable oil (label the cup vegetable oil) and another with 15 mL (3 tbsp) rubbing alcohol and label this cup “rubbing alcohol”.
Discuss with the kids how the color began to dissolve in the water on their fingertips. What will happen with an M&M candy in the vegetable oil? In the rubbing alcohol? Ask them for their hypotheses and then test them to see if they’re right!
4. Place an M&M candy in the cup labeled vegetable oil, and one in the cup labeled rubbing alcohol, and finally add a candy to the cup with water in it.
Ask the kids what happened? Encourage them to use the terms solution and dissolve. Which liquid dissolved the candy shell the fastest? Why?
The M&M candy will dissolve the most, and the kids may even get a peek at the chocolate under the candy coating if you leave it in the water for a few minutes. The rubbing alcohol will dissolve the candy coating the second best, and the oil won’t likely dissolve any of the candy shell.
The candy coating is breaking up into very tiny pieces that seem to disappear but they are really still there, as evidenced by the color. Interestingly, M&Ms and Skittles both use an ink that doesn’t dissolve in water for the letters. If the kids don’t jostle the cups too much, the M and S may float up an doff of the candy. Try it!
There are all sorts of spin-off mini labs you can do. Dissolve some salt in a small bit of water – ask the kids if the salt is gone? It looks gone; but where has it gone? Let the water sit out for a few days to evaporate then show the kids the salt left behind.
Compost or discard the vegetable oil and any solids. The water and rubbing alcohol can be disposed ove down the drain with lots of running water. Throw out any cups or spoons used for stirring.