Have you ever wondered how those little M’s are put onto M&M’S®? Okay, maybe you wonder about other things—like how to get the kids to clean up after themselves or what you are going to fix for dinner—but here, we wonder about odd things.
In the planning for our chocolate class I came across an experiment that I decided we just had to try. It’s a fairly simple experiment to do, but as far as the kids are concerned, it’s very cool!
This science experiment was done with Six Hands (age 13), Princess (age 8), and Bug (age 5). Even though it was simple to perform, all three of the kids were able to learn from the experiment.
- M&M’S® (if you want to try this two different ways, use plain and peanut M&M’S®)
- Bowls (clear or white so you can see the colors)
We did this experiment twice, once with plain M&M’S® and once with peanut M&M’S®.
Begin by putting about an inch of water in several bowls.
Note: If you have white bowls, you will be able to see the colors better.
Create some color combinations for each bowl. We chose three colors per bowl.
Let your kids pick the colors for most of the bowls, but try to get at least one bowl that has the primary colors – red, yellow, and blue. Six hands (being 13) actually picked this color combination! Good job!
Place the M&M’S® into the bowls, with the white “M” facing up.
Very quickly, the colors will start to spread out from the M&M’S®.
Here is the progression of our primary color bowl.
The colors are starting to touch and blend.
As you can see, the M&M’S® are losing their color. The “M” stamped on the M&M’S®, which is applied over the colored candy covering, is apparently made of tougher stuff than the coloring.
I did some research and discovered that while the candy coating is made of sugar, corn syrup, and dye, the “M” is made from a type of vegetable oil. (Does that mean I can tell my doctor that I am eating my veggies, when I have a bag of M&M’S®?)
This is where the experiment goes from cool to awesome. Being made of a different compound, the “M” does not dissolve and dissipate as the color did. In fact, in most of our bowls, we were able to see the M float to the surface and in two instances, Princess was able to touch the “M” and have it stick to her finger.
Once you have seen several M’s separate from their chocolate, candy-coated counterpart, you get to play with the colors. Using a utensil with a narrow end (we used a fondue fork), start gently swirling colors together and see what shades you can make.
In the end, you will have a bowl that has pieces of naked chocolate and some sort of color.
We also tried this experiment with peanut M&M’S®. The biggest difference was that, because of the oblong shape of the peanut M&M’S®, it is a bit harder to make sure the “M” is facing up. However, we did end up with two pretty good M’s floating and some beautiful colors.
As far as the science goes—you can scale up or down with this one.
For the little ones, sometimes just seeing the “M” separate and understanding that it is “different” in some way is enough. Another option would be using the colors. Tell your child to make green or orange or purple, and have them pick the M&M’S® that would make that happen.
For the older ones, make it more of an experiment by having them run the trial several times while changing some of the variables; for example, by using hot water vs. cold water; experimenting with peanut, plain, peanut butter, and pretzel M&M’S®; or trying it with more or less water, etc.
We quite enjoyed this experiment and we were able to use up some extra candy we had in the house, so I didn’t even have to go buy M&M’S®. What experiments have you ever done with candy? Quick! Go check the candy stash and see what you can do with your candy. Personally, I want to get some Skittles® . . . I wonder if they will behave the same as the M&M’S®.
Michelle, a Virginia native, currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. Active in Scouts, area homeschool groups, and with her family, she can be found on her blog, “Homeschooler on the Edge,” as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.