A Jack o' Lantern made for the Holywell Manor Halloween celebrations in 2003. Photograph by Toby Ord on 31 Oct 2003. Source: Wikmedia Commons
Giant four-foot spiders climbing the sides of houses, carved pumpkins perched along stairwells of houses, ghosts dangling from eaves, and R.I.P. stakes in lawns here and there bring tidings of all things Halloween. And though Trick or Treat for Unicef boxes did make their way home, there is little doubt that after trick-or-treating there will be candy, candy, and more candy to sort and count and trade and barter... and eat.
The same will be true in many houses, and stories of Halloween bounty will filter through the halls and into classrooms on Monday morning. Understandably, candy is contraband at most schools - for eating. But I've got a list of short-term Science Buddies' project ideas that can parlay the contents of a trick or treat bag into concrete science that's fun to watch, fun to contemplate, and fun to test.
With candy as a starting point, there's something sweet about these short-term projects, for sure. Covering a range of principles and concepts from math and statistics to adaptation and habitats, nucleation, perspiration, humidity, chromatography, and more, there's surely something here with which to treat your students. Dip in and have fun. No costumes required!
- M&M Survival Challenge (Science Buddies' difficulty level: 1-3)
- Keep Your Candy Cool With the Power of Evaporation! (Science Buddies' difficulty level: 2-3)
- Coke® & Mentos® - Nucleation Goes Nuclear! (Science Buddies' difficulty level: 2-3)
- M&M Math(Science Buddies' difficulty level: 3)
- Candy Chromatography: What Makes Those Colors? (Science Buddies' difficulty level: 5-6)
Looking for something a bit more involved and longer in duration that can carry you into the next round of sweet treats? Check out Fast Food: Can Peppermint Improve Reaction Times? (Science Buddies' difficulty level: 8).
If you try one of these with your students or family, please let us know how it goes!