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Makerspace

Rock Candy – Sugar Crystals Grow Wild!

Form your own edible crystals on this STEM candy-making adventure!

  • 5 /5
    Difficulty
  • 6+
    For Ages
  • $5
    Expense

Directions

  • 1 In a pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and stir in 5 cups of sugar. Make sure sugar dissolves.
  • 2 Pour the liquid into a glass bowl. Add a few drops of food coloring and stir. This mix will make your candy glossy and bright.
  • 3 Dip half of each skewer into your magic mix and roll it in a small bowl filled with dry sugar. Clamp the opposite end of the skewer with a clothespin and place it atop a mason jar so the skewer can dangle in the colored liquid. Cover the jar with a paper towel (you can poke the clothespin through the paper) and secure it with a rubber band. Let sit.
  • 4 Keep an eye out every day—for at least a week—and gradually watch your crystals grow! Now wouldn’t it be cool if you could come up with a way for the kids to ‘farm’ their own edible fashion accessories to make rock candy jewelry (hint: try string and tie it to make a bracelet or necklace).

The Sci Behind the DIY

As you’re setting up this Candy Farm, it’s the perfect time to chat science and states of matter. Any kind of cooking is first and foremost a science. In this case, when the water begins to heat up and boil, the sugar dissolves and changes its physical state from solid to liquid creating a more viscous (thicker) solution.

How do the crystals form? The sugar is the ‘seed’ from which rock candy crystals grow and the stick is the surface they cling to. As time passes and water from the solution evaporates, small crystals of sugar encrust the stick. The crystals multiply over time with eventually more than quadrillion molecules attached to the stick.

And time is the operative word. This hack is an excellent exercise in building patience and thinking positively. Not all the treats will turn out perfect after leaving them to grow wild in a jar for up to a week, but you can teach your kids to approach everything in life with a can-dy-do attitude!

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