By Loralea Leavitt
From Andrews McMeel Publishing
“Blow it up, Melt it into bubbling puddles, Find secret ingredients”
Loralea Leavitt has come up with a tremendously fun book for teachers who want to keep middle school students engaged while they are explaining some basic science. Using candy to explain density, crystals, expansion and contraction, and other basic concepts makes science fun and memorable for students and may even encourage them to continue exploring on their own.
The book is divided up into sections with headings followed by experiments and explanations for the science behind the experiments. The first heading is Secret Ingredients and includes an experiment using Pop Rocks to find the ingredients that make the “pop”, experiments for finding oil in candy, an experiment to find out what makes candy sour, and an experiment to find hidden candy (sugar), among others. The second heading, Color includes an experiment playing with candy color to make color separations, and an experiment on how to make a “rainbow in a straw”. This is the largest section for density experiments and includes one of my favorites in the entire book, a Skittles rainbow in a bowl! The third heading, Sink and Float, also includes density experiments through floating and sinking candy. There is even an experiment where you can float the letters right off of M&M’s!
There is not a kid alive who doesn’t love the fourth section heading – Blow It Up! The section is filled with all sorts of experiments that demonstrate expansion and contraction. From exploring the compression of air bubbles in marshmallows with a vacuum tube to the now infamous Mentos soda fountain, there are experiments to delight one and all. Section five, Squash It, explores the different textures of various sugars, through stretching, twisting, and breaking candy. My favorite experiment is the LifeSaver lights! Following through on the texture theme, Section six, Hot and Cold explores the effects of temperature on candy. Section seven, Dissolve This, contains experiments that answer the question: “Why does some candy dissolve faster than other candy?” Section eight, Crystals, is all about the magical world of crystal making from different varieties of sugar. On e thing I like about this section that is different from other books on crystals is that it asks a question about corn syrup and whether or not it makes crystals and includes an experiment for students to find the answer. Finally, the book ends with a section heading Sticky. What makes candy sticky?
I found this to be a wonderful resource book with excellent full-color photographs. The instructions for the experiments are simple and easily integrated into any lesson plan and the simple science explanations are also easily adapted to school science curriculum.