We love using everyday items in our STEM and science experiments. This time of year, we have a LOT of candy canes lying around. It seems like every time I turn around my kids come home with another box or candy cane gift from a friend. My kids aren’t the biggest fans of eating peppermints, so we often end up letting them sit around for months unused. This year, we decided to make use of those candy canes through science. We’ve always wanted to try bending candy canes, which looks like magic, but is pure science!
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Your kids will love practicing their “magic” powers with this fun bending candy canes STEM activity.
Magic Bending Candy Canes STEM Activity for Kids
What you’ll need to set up the bending candy canes STEM activity:
- Candy canes
- Parchment paper
- Cookie sheet
- Large tray
To make this work, you have to melt the candy canes slightly in the oven, but not so much that the candy canes start to lose their shape. You want to loosen the sugar bonds, not destroy them.
Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Unwrap your candy canes and place them on the parchment paper. We were able to fit about 6 candy canes comfortably on our cookie sheet. Cook them in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. Check at 8 minutes and if you see them starting to lose their shape, take the candy canes out. Don’t let kids touch the cookie sheet.
Transfer the piece of parchment paper (not the cookie sheet) to the play tray.
Let the kids come up with whatever design they want for the candy canes, or you can challenge them to make a specific design. My kids thought bending the candy canes into spirals was the coolest thing they had ever seen.
It doesn’t take long for the candy canes to start to cool. If you wait too long to bend the candy canes, or if you try to bend them too quickly, they snap, so watch out!
In about five minutes, my kids had formed a bunch of fun designs and the candy canes were hardened again. If you like, you can return the candy canes to the oven and re-heat them and try again!
What Kids Learn with the Bending Candy Canes STEM Activity
In this STEM activity, kids learn math (oven temperatures, timing), engineering (constructing the candy cane structures), science (sugar bonding, melting points, and heating and cooling), and technology (using the oven and timers). It’s a simple STEM activity, but well-rounded. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like by diving deeper into the science behind the process (how bonds change with temperature) or by challenging kids to make complicated structures from their candy canes. My kids had a blast with this one, and I know we’ll be repeating it!
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