Do your kids like eating candy canes? We always have an abundance of candy canes during the holidays because they are a popular item to attach to Christmas cards. So instead of eating them all, we are going to put them to good use in a fun science experiment!
This magic bending candy cane experiment will make your kid look like they have super strength. Maybe you can even try doing it in front of a friend without telling them you heated the candy cane beforehand. Imagine the look on their face when you turn the candy cane into a pretzel shape!
All jokes aside, do be careful while doing this Christmas STEM activity. Do not let your kids touch the baking sheet, and make sure the candy canes are cool enough (but still malleable) to the touch before letting your kids handle them. To be extra safe, you can have your kids wear gloves while bending the candy canes.
How to Bend Candy Canes
- Candy canes
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Unwrap and place the candy canes on the baking sheet.
4. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes. Do not walk away and forget about your candy canes! If you leave them in the oven for too long they will melt completely and you can no longer handle them.
5. Take the candy canes out of the oven and let them cool for about a minute. The candy canes will be hot, so make sure they are cool enough before letting your children touch them. Consider using oven mitts to bend the candy.
6. The candy canes will cool quickly. Bend slowly and hold against the pan to make bending easier. If the candy canes begin to cool before you have completed making the desired shape, pop the baking sheet back into the oven for an additional 3 minutes.
Isn’t it cool to see the candy canes in so many different shapes? You can twist them around your finger to make spirals, or shape them into a heart. Our favorite was the pretzel!
How candy canes are made in a factory is a fascinating process. They actually start out as straight sticks and then bent into the cane shape. Imagine just how precise the timing must be for the machines to operate without breaking the candy canes! There is such a short time that the candy canes are still malleable before you can no longer manipulate them. Here is a great video to watch with your kids as a supplement to this experiment:
Science Behind the Bending Candy Cane Experiment
Bending candy canes is fun, and there is a lot of science to be explored! In this experiment, we learned about oven temperature and how long it would take to make a candy cane malleable.
If you have different types of candy canes around the house, you can even expand on this science project and experiment whether some candy canes have lower melting points than others. Simply let the candy canes sit in the oven and observe which one melts first (and last!).
You can discover the answers to these questions with your kids:
- Do candy canes from different brands all have similar melting points (a.k.a. when the candy cane changes state from solid to liquid)?
- Do different flavors of candy canes take the same amount of time to become malleable?
- Will a microwave work as well as an oven to bend the candy canes?