School isn’t in session any longer, but that doesn’t mean learning has to stop. Hands-on science projects are one of the best ways to keep children’s brains engaged all summer long. According to the Resource Area for Teaching, “99% of teachers report their students retain knowledge longer as a result of hands-on experience.”
If you are looking for some summer bonding experiences (both the family and chemical kind), just add sugar. We’ve gathered some of our favorite science projects involving sugar for more ways to make summer learning fun.
Your summer lemonade stand just got a whole lot snazzier. Create “fizz bombs” with sugar cubes and baking soda. When placed in lemonade, the bomb will release carbon dioxide bubbles. That’s because the citric acid from lemons and the baking soda react to each other to create carbonation. You and your kids will certainly “be the bomb” when you take these fizzy cubes to parties.
Summer may be warm, but you can cool off, or at least pretend to, by creating this icy worm pond. Pour supersaturated simple syrup into a pan, and tuck in sugar cubes and gummy worms. Your kids will be amazed that instead of melting, the sugars on the worms and cubes actually draw more sugar to them, creating a sugar casing of sorts. The “frozen” worms that result look just like they came out of the ice age.
This is a tasty treat and science experiment all in one. You only need sugar, water and a pan to show kids the different stages of sugar’s chemical compound changes. Watch in wonder as sugar turns into caramel, and then, after a swirl of water, it changes into brittle and winds up as a delicious, syrup-y dip. Kids will learn that even “simple sugar” has much complexity to it.
Summer bubbles are a mainstay around our homes, but the chemicals inside of them can be pretty scary. Create a longer lasting and sustainably-based bubble using three ingredients: sugar, soap and water. Sugar helps your blown bubbles last longer than the store-bought variety, which makes for fun competitions and bubble sculptures at home. Their popularity will blow up around your neighborhood.
Your child’s favorite dessert can create a memorable chemistry lesson. They’ll be fascinated by the magical process of the recipe’s liquid to semi-solid states. In that time, you can share with them the intricacies of ice cream, from the four key ingredients for success to the secret to colder ice. Trips to your local ice cream stand will never be the same.
Use the art of cake decorating to teach the science of clouds. As you create your shapes, discuss just how these fluffy white water vessels regulate weather patterns and present “warning signals” for upcoming changes. A quick glance at the National Weather Service’s “10 Types of Clouds” is a great way to brush up on cloud knowledge and facts yourself.
Sick Science with Steve Spangler
Have you seen the Sick Science experiments we cooked up with Steve Spangler? His beyond cool experiments and high-energy take on making science exciting have made him a regular on the Ellen Show. Check out these quick and easy videos for even more ideas on how sugar makes learning fun.
- Sugar Rainbow – Discovering density has never been more colorful, or fun. This Sugar Rainbow is a creative and engaging method of teaching about how different densities will stack atop each other. There’s even an additional lesson about adhesion and cohesion.
- Bubble Inside a Bubble – Why just make one bubble when you can create a bubble tower?
- Stained Glass Sugar – Use sugar to make ornaments that look just like stained glass (but are much more edible.) Great for talking about chemical properties and density.
- Sugar Yeast Experiment – Use sugar, water and yeast to blow up balloons.
- How to Make Fake Blood – This is hands down the BEST and easiest fake blood recipe out there. Our secret is the unique combination of powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
- Sugar Kaleidoscope – Turn a glass of sugar water into a colorful kaleidoscope.
- Sugar Science with Steve Spangler – Steve goes to a candy making factory to learn more about how sugar science plays a role in making your favorite sweet treats.
Sugar is a great ingredient to play with and learn from. Because of its availability and safety factor, we think it’s perfect for kid-friendly science projects. Let us know if you use or modify one of these science projects for the local fair. It’d be really sweet to see your sugar science in action.