We had so much fun doing this Christmas Candy Cane Experiment. The kids were so excited to see the results and we even used the Scientific Method!
My students love doing Science Experiment. I do too, but buying the materials, set up and clean up is what usually keeps me from doing so. But this Candy Cane experiment was really easy to set up, I had most of the materials at home and I just had to buy the candy canes.
Here is what we used
- 4 Clear Cups ( Holds 6-8 oz and Plastic or Glass)
- 4 Different Clear Liquids (6- 8oz each)
- 4 Candy Canes (small or large)
** For a Small Group Experiment you will need all these supplies per group (We did this as whole group)
Group vs Whole Group
We did the Experiment as a Whole Group Activity, because I am a little cheap and the last thing I want to do on Friday after school is to clean up from the aftermath of each group having their own supplies, the risk of spilling and possible stickiness. I do think that if you do it doing it as a small group, it would be more engaging and beneficial though.
In deciding to do this experiment as a whole group or small group, it all depends on the dynamics of the class, what experience you want the students to have, and how many supplies you want to round up or buy.
The advantages of doing it whole group is that it is easier. Less supplies. Less mess. Less clean up.
The advantages of small groups is students get to experience the impact of the experiment more first hand, they can watch the process happen right in front of them, it can change quickly and some students may miss out on that. Also, when students come up to the front to see the cups with the candy canes in them, then go back to their seat and they will generally talk about what they saw. This takes away the experience from the other students. If you have the time and the resources, I definitely recommend doing this as a small group activity of 4 students. This way each student can be “in charge of a cup” and they get to put the candy cane in it.
Steps to Setting up the Experiment
- Gather the supplies
- Copy and make the lab books (CLICK HERE FOR LAB BOOK RESOURCE)
- Set up the cups. Make sure you number each cup.
Once the students arrive
SCIENTIFIC METHOD. My class definitely needed a reminder of the Scientific Method.
(Included in the unit is a Poster and there are also matching posters that fit in their lab books for the students to refer back.)
OBSERVATION : I didn’t tell the students what were were doing, but I had them look at the supplies and let them come up and smell the cups and then they made a guess of what we were doing. This is good INFERRING Practice!
Then I told them what we were doing. We came up as a class with our lab question.
We made our HYPOTHESIS. Each year I have students feel the need to change their hypothesis mid-experiment or after. Always remind students that it is OK to be wrong. This is an “educated guess” and they need to really think about it. It is not the time to make a funny one to make the class laugh. I now have them write it in pen to avoid the changing. There is a spot in the lab book to write their hypothesis.
The EXPERIMENT. I invited 4 students to come up and drop the candy canes into the cups. Then all students came up a few at a time to view the cups, they went back to their seats to draw their observations.
A few minutes later, I had them come and look again.
Since the 2nd break was longer, the students worked on the Candy Cane Word Search that is included in the unit.
Then in about 15 minutes I had them come and look again.
Once the experiment was over, they had time to DISCUSS THE RESULTS of the experiment with their PAIR/SHARE PARTNERS.
Which liquid had the biggest impact on the candy cane?
We then worked on our lab books to RECORD WHAT WE LEARNED from our observations. As the students finished up, I had them work on the CHRISTMAS COLORING SHEETS and the included Word Search. I walked around quickly to make anecdotal notes on who completed the experiment, and gave them a grade right there. This way they could take their lab books home that day and discuss it with their families.
The clean up was easy since I just had the 4 cups and what was left of the candy canes.
I had extra candy canes so each student got to have one as they went home for the day. As they were leaving for home, I handed them a candy cane and said “Tell someone you love today what happens to Candy Canes when you put them in hot water.”