Easy STEM Activities: Gummy Bear Mad Scientist July 24, 2017 11:21
STEM stands for "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics," and there is no better time to start building your child's interest in these subjects than when they are young.
The best part about STEM activities is that they are mostly based on freeform experimentation. And experimentation, to a child, is just another word for play. Although structured activities are important for children to learn about boundaries and safety, guided activities are best for exploration, the root of all things STEM."
Guided activities mean suppling the tools and equipment, giving the challenge, and then stepping back to oversee safety. Beyond that, it's up to your child to determine what to do next and how to get from idea to success.
What You'll Need: Gummy Bears, cups or Ziploc bags, spoons, pencil and paper, water, vinegar, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and food coloring.
Safety First: Remember that an adult should always be present when performing these mad science experiments. Besides, this is a lot of fun and you won't want to miss out. Also, although it may be tempting, don't eat your experiments. Instead, you may want to set aside a handful of clean bears straight out of the bag for snacking.
This SCIENCE activity is super fun! Depending on the age of your little one, there's a lot they can get out of this experiment. Toddlers will love pouring and mixing, and preschoolers will enjoy guessing the outcome and seeing the results. Older children can delve even further into the science behind their discoveries by performing control and follow-up experiments.
One of the best parts of this activity is its freeform experimental nature. First, you begin with a bear in a cup. Ask your child what they want to add to the cup. What do they think will happen? Start with simple mixtures like water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. In most cases, you won't see results right away. When you move on to baking soda, baking powder, and food coloring, this will change and you'll see things happen right away. But the best results are achieved if you let your experiments sit in their liquids overnight.
And don't forget to document your experiment. Label your cups with numbers or letters and make a matching grid to keep track of what you add to your cups. If your child doesn't write yet, do it for them. Have them draw pictures of the ingredients they are adding and their guesses at the outcomes. Write the names of the ingredients beside their pictures. Modeling the activity of writing can motivate your little ones as well as demonstrate a practical use for the skill.
Extension Activities: Try these same experiments with different gummy critters, or different liquids. You can also change the temperature of the bears or the liquids.
More STEM Reading:
100 Super Fun STEM Resources for Kids from Raising Lifelong Learners
40 STEM Activities for Kids from Playdough to Plato
Playground Science from STEM Activities for Kids
Science Experiments and STEM Activities for Kids from Little Bins for Little Hands
Creative STEM Activities for Kids from Schooling a Monkey