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How to grow a Gummy bear- exploring osmosis

While most sugary sweets will dissolve in water, gummy bears are made from gelatin, which prevents them from dissolving.

This is a fun, very simple experiment that explores osmosis - the process whereby water moves from a greater concentration of water to a lower concentration of water (so, from a pot of water to a gummy bear)

At the beginning of the experiment there is less water and more gelatin inside each bear. As time passes this changes as the gelatin acts like a sponge and absorbs the water.

We tried the bears in a pot with salt water, a pot with sugar water and a pot with just plain water to see if salt and sugar had an effect.

You will need:

  • Gummy bears

  • sugar

  • salt

  • water

To do:

  • Put your gummy bears into 3 separate pots.

  • mix sugar (about a tablespoon) with some water and do the same with salt.

  • Add salt water to one gummy bear pot, sugar to another and just plain water to the last one.

  • Keep back a 'control' bear that you can use to compare your findings.

This experiment needs to be done for a minimum of 12 hours to see the effects, so keep checking every couple of hours or leave them overnight.

We checked after 4 hours and could see some developments, the salt water bears were the same size and you could see the salt had encased them, the sugar water bears were no different but the plain water ones were slightly bigger.

We then left them overnight and checked again in the morning. (about 16 hours in total)

The first picture shows the bears in growth order, starting from the left with the plain water bear, the sugar water bear, the salt water bear and the control bear to compare their sizes to their original form.

The second picture shows that the plain water bear had doubled in size! The salt water bear in the next picture had slightly grown and i think it probably needed a higher concentration of salt as it was supposed to shrink!!

The sugar water bear had also only slightly grown and this shows that there must be more sugar inside the bear than in the water.

When we took the bears out of the water the plain water ones were starting to break apart so I imagine after several more hours they would be completely broken.

This experiment was fun for Leo, 3 years. He likened it to magic happening! For Ella, 7 years, this was a fab experiment to not only learn about osmosis but about which materials absorb water too, we had quite a lengthy chat about it!

Overall, for a pre school aged child I would just grow the bears in plain water and let them enjoy the magic but for older children I would definitely do the experiment this way and perhaps try vinegar too and see what happens.

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