Invitation to Build: Gumdrop Christmas Trees – Left Brain Craft Brain

Invitation to Build: Gumdrop Christmas Trees – Left Brain Craft Brain.

Build a Christmas Tree

Okay, we’ve done challenges like this before in STEM club – spaghetti towers, marshmallows are far too messy, “buy” different types of building materials. I think one year we did it as part of STEM week and had to balance Creme Eggs on the top of a tower! It had never occurred to me to make this twist and make a Christmas Tree version!

Maybe part of the challenge could be to hold a particular star or tree ornament.

I love how you can adapt the other challenges, involve a planning session to get students to look into the best shapes involved to make a tower and then devote an hour to building a Christmas Tree. I think it would also be incredibly useful in an end of term lesson or even for a tutor-time activity. There might not be time to add it in for this year, but perhaps next year!


STEM – Unlocking the Rainbow

Following on from the Skittles posts recently – Candy Experiments and Fun Experiments. We tried this! Well, we tried the rainbow one again, more accurately this time and we got some amazing results. The Skittles in a petri dish worked just as previous blogs said, some of our STEM Club’s results were amazing –

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We tried it with 3 and 5 coloured Skittles (although I realised far too late that there are not 6 colours of Skittles!) and produced a very simple worksheet for colouring in. I love how the colours don’t mix!

Then we did the density rainbow which certainly involves a very steady hand! But some of our groups managed to make it (after I worried hugely that I had made the solutions wrong!)

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I made a huge batch of the different colours – using 100 red skittles, 75 orange, 50 yellow, 25 green and 5 purple – each in 300ml of just boiled water and left them to dissolve for over an hour. I only opted to do it in that order as somebody I know loves the purple flavour so I saved them! In total we opened 3-4 big bags of Skittles, but it was for a full sized class and there are some left.

I even also now have an extension for this experiment, but it’s an Adults only extension! How about a rainbow of Skittles vodka? Any adult want to try it and let me know how it works?



Candy Chemistry Experiments | Experiments | Steve Spangler Science

Candy Chemistry Experiments | Experiments | Steve Spangler Science.

Okay, there may a slight addiction to sweets here (well, after testing and experimenting someone has to eat the spare sweets!) so when someone in a STEM session (after the Skittles experiment) mentioned about Gummy bears in water, it deserved a google search.

We’re currently planning a STEM session on osmosis with blackcurrant squash and potatoes – I tried it the other week and the results were really good and incredibly visual as each potato chip comes out purple in differing shades depending on concentration. The photos didn’t come out too good, unfortunately. But we’re not sure of how long it will take during the hour long session so we wondered if Growing Gummy Bears would be a fun little add on.

There were multiple google hits, but good old Steve Spangler has the best, most scientific explanations so I thought we’d take it from there. Although, from other google hits, I did get the idea to test different liquids rather than just salt and sugar water. I wonder if a white Gummy Bear would go purple in blackcurrant squash?

I can’t wait to try out some different solutions with Gummy Bears. Maybe other sweets, too.

Candy Experiments: Skittles Rainbow

Candy Experiments: Skittles Rainbow. As an add on to the post I made yesterday about sweetie science, this is the link I found a few years ago for the density rainbow using skittles. I tried it out without being too accurate in my water measurements and had a bit of trouble with the red and yellow, but the other colours had amazing banding.

I’m going to try it again, with a bit more accuracy and the petri dish skittle experiment. Again, this experiment is easy enough to do at home, too. All you need is skittles, water and cups/glasses (see through ones) and a very steady arm!

Fun Experiments – Innovative

Fun Experiments – Innovative

I’ve seen this before, and love it! It is so simple and easy to try out, too. Because even though the amazing work sheet says to use a petri dish, you can just use a wide enough bowl or a deep enough plate really so it can be done at home with sweets, water and crockery. Add in Innovative Education’s idea of trying different sweets like smarties or M&Ms and you can introduce fair testing and predictions into the game. Don’t forget to ask the all important questions of:

  • What is going to happen to the sweets in water?
  • What will happen when they meet? What will the end result be?
  • Will colours mix? Stay separate? Why?

This would be perfect as a lesson starter, as a STEM activity or introduction to diffusion at home. And with the left over sweets you can either eat them or create a density rainbow!