The Skittles science experiment!

Skittles are perfect for this experiment, but you might be able to use other sweets.

The skittles science experiment is one of our post loved colourful and fun science experiments and in todays post we are going to show you how you can do it and why you should do it!

Please be aware we are not associated with skittles or work as an affiliate for any of their products, and potentially this could be done with other sweets, but the reason it works so well with skittles? Well, we will find out soon enough.

First, we will need a list of what we need:

What you need:

  • Skittles (large or regular work great)
  • A plate
  • warm water
  • The ability to resist eating the whole packet of skittles!

What to do:

Simply place the skittles around the edge of the plate, creating a circle. You can randomly place colours or create a pattern of colours. You decide! After you have completed the circle, it’s time to pour the warm water. I find it best to pour into the centre slowly. If you pour too fast the pressure of the water may push the skittles out of place.

Now the water has been poured, it is time to wait and watch the colours form! You can check out how our experiment turned out, on our Instagram page.

The science!

Now, the exciting part! Why do the colours stay separate and create a beautiful rainbow effect, instead of mixing together to form the colour brown?

Well this is why skittles are fantastic to use. Because skittles contain equal amounts of sugar per skittle (regardless of their colour), skittles are a perfect choice for this experiment. This is because the density of the sugar is what makes the colours stay separate.

Sugar is denser than water and once it mixes with the water, which works almost instantly w because of the warm water used and the skittle shell. The dense sugar water then moves into the centre of the plate, equally being able to push through the water and dissolve. whilst unable to push past each other, as each colour has the same dense volume.

Test it differently

You can also experiment with movement. As you will find from doing the first initial experiment, you need to stay still! Any movement can cause vibrations that break through the movement of the dense water and either cause the solution to completely mix or show slight bends as the liquid travels.

Test different dishes: A plate works well with this experiment as it gradually dips in the centre, which helps moved the sugar solution through the water. Would this change if you used a bowel or a completely flat dish?

Use different sweets! So like I said the skittles work well because each sugar coated shell has equal amounts of sugar. But could this work with gummy bears or a different type of sweet? How does this change the result?

Testing an original idea for an experiment in different ways, creates scientific thinking and practices problem solving skills. Your child will learn to question things and find solutions through new ways of testing and experimenting!

Children could also learn how to jot down results in a graph or diagram and explore the best ways of recording results.

The exploration of movement within this experiment!

Scientific words

As well as increasing confidence in problem solving skills and scientific thinking techniques, through this experiment children can practice and learn the use of scientific words.

Key words for this experiment are: dissolve, density and change.

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