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Willy Wonka Science and Make-Believe STEM

Inspire students to explore science and engineering with activities that bridge the world of make believe and STEM. Fans of Roald Dahl and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory can put on their own Willy Wonka inventor hats with these activities and experiments.

Colorful lollipop to represent Willy Wonka Science, part of Make-Believe STEM with Science Buddies

Everlasting Fun with Willy Wonka Science

For readers of all ages, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory wraps up the whimsy and excitement of science and engineering like an oversized, colorful, endlessly flavor-changing jawbreaker. When Charlie finds the final golden ticket to be one of the children invited to tour the chocolate factory, readers follow along and laugh at (or are appalled by) the other ticket holders and are amazed by the wonders of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, where all kinds of inventive and creative flavors and candies are developed. From lickable wallpaper to a chocolate river and gum that contains all the flavors of a three-course meal, Willy Wonka's factory is full of zany creations that are fun to imagine!

This set of science and engineering activities helps kids play along, taking on the role of Willy Wonka as they use science and engineering to invent their own candies, treats, and more! What inventions will they imagine for their candy factory?

Willy Wonka Science: Experiment | Watch | Kits | Ask | Careers | Read

EXPERIMENT: Willy Wonka Science Experiments

Zany Favors of Ice Cream in a Bag

Have you tried maccaroni and cheese or pizza ice cream? Stick with the classics, combine flavors, or invent something totally new when shaking up ice cream in a bag! Kids can experiment to develop custom ice cream flavors while learning firsthand about the science of freezing. What's the role of salt in the process? Get inspired! These kids made gourmet ice cream flavors. (Do more! You can also experiment with making hot ice cream or bake ice cream inside a cake!)

What Do Colors Taste Like?

When inventing candies or icy drinks like slushies, the color is up to the inventor! Will people respond differently to your candy or drink if you change the color? What does purple taste like? How about green? Mix up some colorful drinks and put the relationship between color and taste to a fun taste test!

Expand Your Gummies

Willy Wonka's gummy bears grow on trees and are giagantic! Can you make ordinary candy grow bigger? Some candies will dissolve in water, but if you add gummies to water, they will expand! What ingredient makes this happen? Caution! Hot water will reverse the process! A good candy maker knows when to use hot and cold. (Reminder: You have to be careful with expanding candies... remember what happened to Violet Beauregarde?)

Fizzy Lemonade

Take a sip of Willy Wonka's Fizzy Lifting Drinks, and you might float away! Transform ordinary lemonade into an extraordinary and fun drink by adding fizz. You'll stay on the ground, but you can still pretend your drinks have gassy super powers! Nothing says your fizzy lemonade has to be yellow, either! (Remember: There were fizzy lemonade swimming pools at the chocolate factory, too!)

Jawbreaker Production Line

Factories depend upon production lines, and Willy Wonka's factory is full of pipes and conveyer belts and machines! Build a wall-size marble run for jawbreaker candies, like the Everlasting Gobstoppers in the story. Can you make a production line to transport candies safely from top to bottom? Reminder! Don't forget to add a button to (pretend) start and stop the process!

Grow Rock Candy

If you could visit Willy Wonka's factory, you might find a forest of rock candy in a range of flavors and colors. It might be next to the chocolate river and growing up from the swudge, grass made of minty sugar. Grow your own homemade rock candy from sugar and water to learn about the crystalization process. How large can your rock candy grow? Can you grow it in specific shapes? What colors or flavors will you use? (Extra! There's a reference to a rock candy mine that is 10,000 feet deep in the chocolate factory!)

WATCH: Videos


For students looking for a more involved science experiment or science fair project, the following Science Buddies Kits are related to the science experiments highlighted above:

To learn about other Science Buddies Kits, see our 12 Science Kits for Summer Science Experiments and Discovery recommendations.

ASK: Questions

Use these questions to prompt conversation and reflection about the science behind the Willy Wonka Science activities:

  • What kind of candy do you imagine creating? What flavor would it be? What color? How would you go about inventing it?
  • What kinds of science are involved in making candy and other tasty treats?
  • How is being an inventor of food items the same as being an inventor of something else, like toys? How is it different?
  • What qualities do you think a good (or successful) candy inventor needs?

CAREER: Make Connections with STEM Careers

Learn more about related science and engineering careers, like:

READ: Books

Roald Dahl created the imaginative story of Willy Wonka and the fantastical chocolate factory Charlie visits after finding the golden ticket. Dahl wrote a number of other popular children's books, too! In addition to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, check out these other stories:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover Charlie and the Glass Elevator cover Matilda cover BFG cover James and the Giant Peach
cover Fantastic Mr. Fox cover

Making candy, food, and other tasty treats is fun! For other picture and story books you can pair with the Willy Wonka Science and Make-Believe STEM theme, see titles like these:

Not Enough Lollipops cover Peanut Butter and Cupcake cover Oliver's Lollipop cover A Pizza with Everything on It  cover Caterina-Lemonade-Stand cover Froggys Lemonade Stand Hack Your Kitchen cover Last Lemonade Standing cover Landon's Lemonade Stand cover Treehouse Trio cover Unicorn Sold Zero Cupcakes cover Mission Defrostable cover Rutabaga cover All Four Stars series Candymakers cover Tangle Knots cover Bliss Bakery cover Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop cover Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix cover

For more suggestions for science-themed summer reading, see our Summer Reading List. Also, don't miss this roundup of creative STEM activities for storytelling and imaginative play.

Bookmark, Pin, or Share the Make-Believe STEM / Willy Wonka Science Collection!

Two cups of fizzy lemonade, one purple and one blue - part of Willy Wonka-inspired Make-Believe STEM Science Experiments Colorful gummies in a row, ones that have expanded above ones that are regular size - part of Willy Wonka-inspired Make-Believe STEM Science Experiments Colorful bowl of ice cream made in a bag and topped with candies - part of Willy Wonka-inspired Make-Believe STEM Science Experiments Three cups of differently colored liquids for a taste test - part of Willy Wonka-inspired Make-Believe STEM Science Experiments

More Make-Believe STEM

This collection is part of a series of Make-Believe STEM resources at Science Buddies.

For additional resources to support connections between science and engineering and literacy, imaginative play, storytelling, visit Make-Believe STEM Science Experiments and Storytelling Activities.


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