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.
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 BagHave 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 GummiesWilly 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 LemonadeTake 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 LineFactories 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 CandyIf 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!)
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:
- Chemistry of Ice Cream Kit: Learn more about the science of freezing with this chemistry kit (grades 6+) and the Chemistry of Ice-Cream Making: Lowering the Freezing Point of Water science fair project. With a hands-on experiment, students explore how the freezing point of water can be changed and what that has to do with making ice cream!
- Candy Chromatography Kit: Use paper chromatography to investigate the colors used to make up the coatings of hard-shell candies. Tip! This kit can also be used to explore colors in inks, leaves, flowers, and more! See the Paper Chromatography Science Projects & Experiments resource to learn more.
To learn about other Science Buddies Kits, see our 12 Science Kits for Summer Science Experiments and Discovery recommendations.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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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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