Gummy Bear Science – Osmosis in Action

Gummy bear science  osmosis fun for elementary kids

Last week we discovered that gummy bears don’t dissolve, but instead get bigger when you leave them in water.

This week we decided to extend our gummy bear science lab see what happens when you leave them for a bit longer.

J(8) wondered if the same would happen with jelly babies (a popular British sweet, a bit like gummy bears but with a harder outside).


Gummy bears

Jelly babies


Glass or jar

Refrigerator, if you want to taste test

What we did

We placed our gummy bears and jelly babies in separate glasses of water and left them for a week (but twenty-four hours would do). We put them in the fridge, to minimise bacterial growth, in anticipation of a taste test.

What happened

We used our senses to examine our gummy bears and jelly babies.

Gummy bear osmosis experiment
We could SEE that the gummy bears had become three or four times bigger and become more translucent


elementary homeschool science
They FELT “squidgy” and “gooey”


elementary osmosis demonstration
They didn’t TASTE good at all!
The jelly babies also expanded
elementary homeschool science - osmosis
… but their hard outside layer split

Gummy bear science

Gummy bears and jelly babies contain water with lots of other things dissolved in a concentrated solution.

The water in the glass flows through the gummy bear’s semi-permeable membranes. This flow (diffusion) of water from a region of low concentration of solute to a high concentration is called osmosis.

The sweets became more translucent partly because the colouring had to go further in the larger sweet, and maybe partly because some of the colouring dissolved in the water.

Gummy bear and jelly baby ingredients
We were intrigued by some of the gummy bear (right) and jelly baby (left) ingredients

In the case of the jelly baby, we hypothesised that although water can pass through the (sugar?) shell, the outside of the jelly baby is unable to absorb water as fast as the inside, causing it to crack.

More fun with osmosis and jelly babies

We also came across this exciting jelly baby oxidisation experiment – screaming jelly babies. Sadly not one to try at home!

Did you know that as well as being one of Doctor Who’s favourite snacks, jelly babies were originally called “peace babies” as they were launched in 1918 to mark the end of World War I?

And as for osmosis, I can’t believe we’ve been homeschooling for three years and we’ve never done the celery or carnation experiments?! Guess what we’ll be trying next…

Science Sunday


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25 thoughts on “Gummy Bear Science – Osmosis in Action

  1. Very experiments with the sweets! It’s also interesting to look at ingredients on packaging to find out what really goes into the making of those sweets. I’m looking forward to more of your experiments. Your posts are always so clearly written and interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Fun! We tried the egg experiment to learn about osmosis and diffusion – too bad I hadn’t heard of the gummy bear experiment – I know the girls would have loved it! Will have to try it out next time we have extra candy lying around (better to have them experiment with it than eat it, right? 🙂 )

    1. Oh yes I saw the egg experiment too but we were a bit egg’ed out after soaking them in coca cola and vinegar for something else (then we forgot about them, oops they didn’t smell good!).

      I suspect my son’s suggestion that we use jelly babies may have been a ruse to get extra sweets into the house, but after one or two for the taste test they are back in the cupboard “for future science experiments” 😉

  3. Lucinda,

    I didn’t know about peace babies. I like that name! We haven’t tried any sweet experiments, but we did watch an entertaining Periodic Table of Videos video about Cadbury Cream Eggs: Chemistry of Creme Eggs. My girls love that website!

    1. I liked the idea of peace babies, too! And I love the sound of Cadbury Cream Eggs chemistry … off to check that one out. Thanks, Sue!

  4. My sister and I watched Dr. Who each week here in the US back in the days of Tom Baker!! (The best Dr. EVER in our not so humble opinion!;)

    I always wondered what the Jelly Babies were. If I make it to England, I’m going to have to get a bag!

    Cool experiment! Have you done the Menthos with Diet Coke experiment? Definitely an outdoor experiment…

    We have homeschooled our kids for years. It is fun how you can teach them in different ways. I look forward to reading your blog. Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi Mary! Oh yes Tom Baker was my first Dr too. I remember always knitting those scarves like his. I must admit to being rather fond of David Tennant’s Dr as an adult – I was so happy he brought the programme back to life. And I’ve warmed to Matt Smith because I appreciate him bringing the joy of Dr Who to my kids. Do you still watch?

      We love Menthos and Coke too. Last time we did it we used the gadget you can buy. It was worth the investment! (though I’m glad we experimented with our own Menthos-loaders first too).

      I’m looking forward to checking out your blog too 🙂

  5. Lula, I just recently introduced my kids to Dr. Who via Amazon Prime after I found it in their program list. My sister and I watched the original series on our local PBS station. (Public Broadcast System) They run a lot of BBC shows. (My current favorite is Last of the Summer Wine!! LOVE that show!!!)

    Since our local PBS doesn’t air Dr. Who currently, we found it on Amazon Prime and my kids loved Tom Baker. I’ll look for the seasons where David Tennant and Matt Smith were the good Dr. 🙂 Amazon doesn’t carry all the episodes, but I’m sure we can find some with them in it. Thanks for the tip!

    1. Gosh that makes me appreciate the BBC! Then again, we don’t have any programming available on our Amazon Prime, so I guess it’s swings and roundabouts! (If you even have that saying over there!) I’m happy to have found another Dr Who fan – enjoy! 🙂

  6. wow this is rlly greet. I LoVe thes experemint, verry educational. Me did this for scienec [[[[[fair maybe


  7. Its me again, Lucy. I have no idea what was going on with my comment last time, but since then I don’t let my little cousins use my computer, haha! I guess they love gummy bears 😉

  8. I have an assignment about this experiment and is due to tomorrow any suggestion please.. 🙁

    1. Hi Hiba, I’m so sorry I missed your comment until now. I hope you managed to find some information about osmosis for your assignment? If you’re still curious about it, try the BBC website.

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