Candy Chemistry

My students came in a week or so ago asking to study the chemical reactions in pop rocks. My initial response was to explain the lack of chemical reaction in that particular example. Luckily, my instinct kicked in and I kept my mouth shut. After some research and work, I think I’ve put together the framework to base our entire chemistry unit around candy reactions.

We will start with a variety of demonstrations and inquiry activities around the following reactions:

  • popping candy in saliva, water, coke. Also some observation while physically crushing the candy.
  • Fizz candy in saliva, water, coke. Add in some observation of the candy broken in pieces.
  • Mentos candy in mouth (texture), water, soda water, diet coke. Add in some observation under a microscope.
  • Melted potassium chlorate in a test tube with gummy bear added
  • Homemade FIZZ candy (baking soda, icing sugar and citric acid)

After these demos and inquiries, students will be told that by the end of the unit they will be able to explain the following about each reactions:

  • whether the reaction is a chemical or physical reaction
  • word equation of chemical reactions
  • balanced equation of chemical reactions
  • whether molecules involved in the reaction are elements, ionic, molecular/covalent or acids
  • the type of reaction (ex. synthesis, decomposition, combustion, neutralization)

Throughout the unit we will look at the following topics, each with a deeper look into a common household product reaction or candy reaction.

  • ionic molecules (bonding, naming, polyatomic)
  • molecules molecules (covalent bonding, naming)
  • conservation of mass through inquiry, leading to balancing equations
  • acids and bases
  • types of chemical reactions

Each topic will involve outlining our learning goals and success criteria and then a variety of stations to practice newly acquired skills. They will choose which stations require more time, or only a glossing over based on their needs. Feedback will be provided by peers at stations in addition to by me at a variety of checkpoints verbally and through Evernote shared folders. Each task includes an option of how they will communicate their knowledge with me (written with diagrams, blog posts, verbally and visually using the iPad or Livescribe pen, creating models and taking images, etc.). Enhancement activities and extra practice activities will be posted in our online classroom for students to access as desired.

Their final task will be to explain the reactions of some selected reactions, including the candy reactions.

I’d love input and ideas on how to improve this part of the course. 🙂