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Skittle science – don’t just taste the rainbow, play with it!

If you’re looking for a relatively low-maintenance way to entertain your kids, we highly recommend this experiment, which is a twist on the one that was doing the rounds a while back where you made a beautiful rainbow using Skittles and water.

So what’s happening?

Milk has lots of protein, and the alcohol tries to grab onto those proteins and make them change shape. The movement of the molecules in the milk and the alcohol as they dance around and interact with each other would be invisible but the food colouring gets caught up in the dance so you can see it happen before your eyes.

If you simply use water, you’ll see a very distinct pattern form. This is because when you pour water on the Skittles, the sugar dissolves and the colouring disperses through the water. The colour continues to move away from the Skittles into the clear water because it wants to spread itself out evenly. So it moves from where there is lots of colour (in the Skittles) to where there’s mostly water until everything’s equal.

Water is also a very good liquid for dissolving things in, especially sugar. Milk isn’t so great, so the colours take longer to dissolve in the milk which is why the colours move more slowly than they do in the water.

And you don’t have to stop there! Why not set up a few different plates (if you can spare the sweeties) and see what happens when you:

  • Try warm milk compared to fridge cold milk
  • Use different kinds of coloured sweets like M&Ms
  • Swap washing up liquid or hand soap for the alcohol.

Have a go and feel free to post your findings on our Facebook page. We’d love to see how you get on!

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