Holiday Science: Candy Cane Art

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Crying over broken candy canes? Cry no more. Make art!

Candy Cane Art- image KitchenPantryScientist.com

Candy Cane Art- image KitchenPantryScientist.com

This project is from “Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science,” by Andrew Schloss.  For a cookbook full of delicious recipes and the Science-Behind-the-Fun, buy my book Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition here!

*Melted candy can get dangerously hot, so parental supervision is required!

You’ll need:

-candy canes (broken or whole), wrappers removed

-heavy-duty aluminum foil

-a cookie sheet

-a wire cooling rack

-an oven

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What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 250F.
  2. Cover cookie sheet with foil
  3. Place candy canes on foil, not touching each other
  4. Bake candy canes for around 10 minutes and have an adult check them. They should be stretchy, but not too hot to touch.img_5761
  5. When the candy canes are ready, bend, fold, twist and pull them into cool shapes. Try pulling one long and wrapping it around a chopstick to make a spiral. What else could you try?
  6. If the candy gets to brittle to work with, put it back in the oven for a few minutes to make it soft again.
Candy Cane Art- image KitchenPantryScientistcom

Candy Cane Art- image KitchenPantryScientistcom

The science behind the fun:

If you looks at the ingredients of candy canes, they’re usually made of table sugar (sucrose), corn syrup, flavoring, and food coloring. Glucose and fructose are sweet-tasting molecules that stick together to make up most of the sugars we eat, like table sugar (sucrose) and corn syrup. You can think of them as the building blocks of candy.

At room temperature, candy canes are hard and brittle, but adding heat changes the way the molecules behave. Both table sugar and corn syrup contain linked molecules of glucose and fructose, but corn syrup has much more fructose than glucose, and the fructose interferes with sugar crystal formation. According to Andrew Schloss, “the corn syrup has more fructose, which means the sugar crystals in the candy don’t fit tightly together. The crystals have space between them, which allows them to bend and move without cracking.

Here’s a great article on the science of candy-making.

If you’re looking for holiday gifts for a science-loving kid, my books Chemistry Lab for Kids, Kitchen Science Lab for Kids and Outdoor Science Lab for Kids include over 100 fun family-friendly experiments! They’re available wherever books are sold.

Chemistry for Kids book

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Here’s some fun footage of kids doing projects from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids. I miss those mask-less photo shoots! (Book Photos by Amber Procaccini and illustrations by @kellyannedalton.) If you’ve got a young scientist on your list, “CHEMISTRY FOR KIDS -Homemade Science Experiments and Activities Inspired by Awesome Chemists, Past and Present” is available everywhere books are sold!

Hot Chocolate Bombs (Holiday Science)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Here’s a video on how to make hot chocolate bombs. My tips below.

  1. Buy thin silicone molds like these that make it easy to pop chocolate half-domes out.
  2. Melt chocolate (chips or a chopped chocolate bar) in the microwave at 15 second intervals until almost all of it is melted, but there is still some solid chocolate. Stir until the last of the solid chocolate melts. (If you get the chocolate too hot, it ruins the crystal structure of the fat in the cocoa butter and it won’t re-harden very well.)
  3. Use a spoon or brush to coat the sides of the mold. Put in the freezer (or outdoors if it’s below freezing) for five minutes.
  4. Add a second layer of chocolate to cover any holes and thicken the structure. Put outside for five more minutes and then carefully remove the chocolate.
  5. Put hot chocolate mix and marshmallows in half of a dome.
  6. Add melted chocolate to a small plastic bag, cut the corner off and pipe the chocolate around the edge of the filled half-dome.
  7. Put a second half-dome on top, smooth the seam with your finger and allow the chocolate to hard.
  8. Decorate by piping more chocolate on top and adding crushed candy or sprinkles.
  9. Add to hot milk, stir and enjoy!

Science Books for Kids (Holidays 2020)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

If you’re looking for holiday gift ideas for the young scientist on your list, here’s Science Magazine’s 2020 list of science books for kids and teens! They’re all finalists for the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science)/Subaru Science prize and I’m thrilled to have my latest book, Chemistry for Kids, included on the list.

Find the entire list here, along with descriptions and brief reviews of each book: https://blogs.sciencemag.org/books/2020/12/01/books-for-young-readers-2020/

From the Science Magazine review of Chemistry for Kids:
“If you were to choose 25 discoveries to document the progress of chemistry through millennia, what would you pick? In Chemistry for Kids, Liz Lee Heinecke takes us on such a journey, using familiar objects and simple scientific instruments to create straightforward chemistry experiments that chart the field’s evolution over time.
Each chapter is centered on a different experiment and begins with a vivid illustration that highlights a scientist and his or her work. A few paragraphs of engagingly written introduction are followed by colorful photographs of youngsters demonstrating the steps of the experiment. A brief explanation of the chemistry that underlies each experiment wraps up each chapter”


“If you were to choose 25 discoveries to document the progress of chemistry through millennia, what would you pick? In Chemistry for Kids, Liz Lee Heinecke takes us on such a journey, using familiar objects and simple scientific instruments to create straightforward chemistry experiments that chart the field’s evolution over time.
Each chapter is centered on a different experiment and begins with a vivid illustration that highlights a scientist and his or her work. A few paragraphs of engagingly written introduction are followed by colorful photographs of youngsters demonstrating the steps of the experiment. A brief explanation of the chemistry that underlies each experiment wraps up each chapter”

Hard Candy Stained Glass- Edible Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Most clear hard candy has what scientists call a glass structure. It’s a disorganized jumble of three kinds of sugar: glucose, fructose and sucrose, which can’t assemble into organized crystals, so it remains transparent when you melt it and allow it to re-harden.

 

Hard Candy Stained Glass “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

To make stained glass for our gingerbread house windows, I adapted the crushed stained glass candy project from my book “STEAM Lab for Kids.” The challenge was figuring out how to create perfect rectangles. After some trial and error, I discovered that scoring the candy when it was still warm and soft created weak points, which allowed me to snap the candy into clean shapes once it had hardened.

Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

You’ll need:

-Jolly Ranchers, Life Savers or another clear, hard candy

-a baking sheet (spray or grease the baking sheet, if not using a silicon liner)

-a silicon liner for the baking sheet, if you have one

-a metal spatula or dough scraper

-an oven

Safety tip: Adult supervision recommended. Hot, melted candy can cause burns. Don’t touch it until it has cooled.

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Unwrap the candy and arrange the pieces on a baking sheet so that they’re close together, but not touching.

    Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

  3. Bake the candy for 7 to 8 minutes, or until it has melted. 
  4. Remove the candy from the oven. Tilt the baking sheet, if needed, to fill gaps.
  5. Use the spatula to score (make lines in) the candy, creating whatever shapes/sizes you need.

    Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

  6. When the candy has cooled, snap it carefully along the lines you made. (See photo at the top of this post.)
  7. Eat your creations, or use them to decorate some edible architecture.

    Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

  8. Try crushing the candy before you melt it for different visual effects. What else could you try?

    Stained Glass Candy “STEAM Lab for Kids” Quarry Books 2018

 

 

 

Tabletop Science Trick- Balancing Forks on a Toothpick

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Every object on earth, whether it’s a boat, a person on a bike, or two forks attached to a toothpick, has a single point called the center of gravity (or center of mass) which gravity acts on. This fun trick demonstrates how you can balance the mass of two forks and a toothpick sitting on the edge of a wineglass. The center of gravity on a curved glass exists in the space between the glass and the forks! Amazing!

If you light the toothpick inside the glass on fire, it will burn out when the flame hits the cooling glass. Because the toothpick is so light (has very little mass), the center of gravity doesn’t change much, so the forks remain balanced.

Thanksgiving Food Science: Cranberry Spy Juice

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

(Adapted from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids)

Grab an extra bag of cranberries this Thankgiving! Kids can use it to reveal invisible messages they write with baking soda and water.

You’ll need:

-around 2 cups of cranberries

-water

-baking soda

-printer paper

-small paintbrush, Q-tip, or lollipop stick

Safety tips and Hints:

Boiling the berries should be done by an adult. Keep the lid on the pan, since the air pockets that make cranberries float can also make them explode. Kids can take over once the juice is cool.

When playing with cranberry juice, aprons or old clothes are a good idea, since it stains!

Directions:

Step 1.  Cut a cranberry in half and observe the air pockets that make it float.

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Step 2. Boil the cranberries in about three cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes, covered. Listen for popping sounds as the air in the cranberries heats up and they explode.

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Step 3. Crush the cooked berries and push the liquid through a sieve or colander to collect the concentrated cranberry juice.

Step 4. Allow the juice to cool and pour it into a casserole dish or cake pan big enough to hold a piece of paper.  If your cranberry juice seems thick and syrupy, add a little water, so that it’s thin enough to soak into paper!

Step 5. Test the paper you want to use by cutting a small piece and soaking it in the cranberry juice. If it stays pink, it will work, but if it turns blue or gray, try some other paper.

Step 6. Add a few teaspoons of baking soda to 1/3 cup of warm water and stir well. Don’t worry if you can still see some baking soda.

Step 7.  Using a Q-tip, paintbrush, or a homemade writing tool, use the baking soda solution as ink to write a message on your paper.  It may take a little practice, so don’t get frustrated.

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Step 8. Let your message air dry, or speed things up with a blow dryer.

Step 9. To reveal your message, place your paper in the cranberry juice and see what happens!

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*What other natural acid/base indicators could you use to do this experiment? What else could you use as ink.

The Science Behind the Fun:

Cranberries contain pigments called anthocyanins (an-tho-SY-a-nins,) which give them their bright color. In nature, these pigments attract birds and other animals to fruit.  This is important because animals eat the berries and spread plants seeds from one place to another.

These pigments, called flavanoids, change color when they come in contact with acids and bases.  Cranberry juice is very acidic, and the pigment is pink in acids, but when you add it to a base, it turns purple or blue.

Baking soda is a base, so your baking soda message will turn blue when it comes into contact with the pigments in the cranberry juice.  Eventually, when enough cranberry juice soaks into the paper, it will dilute the baking soda, turning the pigment back to red and your message will disappear!

There are over 300 kinds of anthocyanins which are found in many fruits and vegetables including blueberries, red cabbage, grapes and blueberries.  Scientists believe they may have many health benefits.

Science with Thanksgiving Food: Potato Porcupine

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

As a kid, I was always fascinated by stories of pieces of straw from a field being driven into  wooden planks in barns and houses by the swirling winds.

With a potato, plastic drinking straws and a glass of water, you can see for yourself how this happens.  Like drinking straws, real straw is hollow and although a potato is much softer than a piece of wood, you’ll get the picture.

You’ll need a potato and some sturdy plastic drinking straws.

Begin by soaking a potato in a glass of water for about 30 minutes to soften the skin.  We used a red, boiling potato, because that’s what I had on hand.

Then, grasp a straw tightly, near the middle and stab it into the potato as hard as you can. Try starting at different distances from the potato to see whether it makes a difference in how far the straw goes in. (You can mark it with a Sharpie and pull it out.)

We were surprised to find that, instead of breaking or bending, the straw can be driven surprisingly deep into a potato .  This happens because objects in motion, like the straw, tend to stay in motion and objects at rest, like the potato, tend to stay at rest.  (Newton’s First Law of Motion) This is called inertia.  In addition, the paper-thin edges of a drinking straw don’t offer much resistance, and potatoes are composed of around 90% water.

Halloween Candy Lava Lamps (Use chemistry to test whether candy contains citric acid.)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Make mini “lava lamps” from water, baking soda and oil to test whether candy contains citric acid!

The science behind the fun: Oil floats on water because it is less dense. When citric acid in candy combines with baking soda, a chemical reaction occurs which produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles. As the bubbles move up through the oil, they carry water and food coloring with them. Once the gas escapes into the air, gravity pulls the water and food coloring back down through the oil.to the bottom of the container.

14 Fun Halloween Science Projects for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Turn your kitchen table into the coolest mad science lab in the neighborhood. Click on the project name for a link to instructions and the “Science Behind the Fun.” Several of these projects can be found in my book “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids,” if you’re looking for a gift for your young mad scientist!

Click on

1. Frankenworms– Bring gummy worms to “life” using baking soda and vinegar.

2. Alien Monster Eggs– Make creepy, squishy monster eggs.

3. Oozing Monster Heads– Combine science and art to create Halloween fun.

4. Bag of Blood– Amaze your friends with this magical science trick.

5. Vampire Rock Candy

Vampire Rock Candy (kitchenpantryscientist.com)

6. Cornstarch Goo

7. Jell-O Eyeballs

Jell-O Eyeballs
kitchenpantryscientist.com

8. Vegetable Vampires

Vegetable Vampires kitchenpantryscientist.com

9. Magic Potion– Make a color-changing, foaming potion using red cabbage and water.

10. Halloween Soda Explosion– Halloweenize the classic Diet Coke and Mentos explosion

11. Foaming Alien Blood– Bring the X-Files to your kitchen with this creepy green fake blood

12. Mad Scientist’s Green Slime– Because everyone loves slime

13. Homemade Fake Blood– It’s simple to make non-toxic fake blood in your kitchen.

edible fake blood

14. Fizzy Balloons– Draw scary faces on balloons and blow them up using baking soda and vinegar.