Gummy Bear Experiment

Osmosis can be a difficult concept for kids to understand. I’ve always found that visual explanations really hit home with kids and help them to understand. Today we have a growing gummy bear experiment that is a perfect compliment to our Gummy Mummy experiment that explores the science of desiccation and diffusion. Because gummy bears are made of gelatin they will not dissolve in water like other candy will. They will however absorb liquids and change in shape and size. We’ve set up an experiment with four different liquids to see the difference in how the gummy bears are able to absorb each and how they change over the course of the day.

Great Growing Gummies – Gummy Bear Osmosis Experiment

Gummy Bear Science - Osmosis Experiment

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What is Osmosis?

Scientifically, Osmosis is when solvent molecules (usually water) cross a semipermeable membrane from an area of lower solute concentration to an area of higher solute concentration. This creates equilibrium between the solute and solvent, balancing the concentration of solutes on both sides of the membrane. Osmosis is a passive process in that it requires no energy from the cell to occur.

Now – that’s a lot of big words and concepts so let’s break down that vocabulary:

Solvent: substance able to dissolve other substances.
Solute: a dissolved substance
Membrane: a thin, soft flexible sheet or layer especially of a plant or animal part
Semi-Permeable Membrane: a membrane that only allows certain substances to pass through.
Concentration: the amount of a component in a given substance.
Equilibrium: a state of adjustment between opposing or divergent influences or elements

Gummy Bear Osmosis Lab


Gummy Bears
Small Clear Bowls or Jars
Sparkling Water
White Vinegar


I like to start this in the morning so you can check on it throughout the day and see the changes in the gummy bears.

STEP 1: Lay out four bowls on the table and put a gummy bear in each bowl. Then beside each bowl put another gummy bear of the same color so you can compare the two easily over the course of the day.

STEP 2: Measure equal amounts of each of your solvents. We used a quarter of a cup of water, sparkling water, white vinegar and oil and poured them over the gummy bears in the bowl.

STEP 3: This is a great time to have a discussion about osmosis and have your kids make predictions about what they think is going to happen in each bowl and why. What effect might each substance have on the gummy bear? Have the kids write down their predictions.

STEP 4: Set a timer for an hour and let the bears do their thing.

STEP 5: Check back each hour for the rest of the day and write down observations over the course of the day.

Gummy Bear Osmosis Experiment Results

Now the exciting part… the results of our experiment! Let’s take a look at the results individually first.


Gummy bear soaked in water

When gummy bears are soaked in water the bear will swell and grow in size. This is because the water will flow into the gummy bear through its semi-permeable membrane. The sugar molecules try to spread and dissolve but they can’t get out of the gelatin so they expand resulting in the gummy bear expanding.

Sparkling Water

Gummy Bear soaked in Sparkling Water

Will have a similar result to water. The only difference is that the addition of carbon dioxide to the water can have an acidic effect on the bears which would cause the outside to soften allowing more water to be able to pass through the bear and it swells up more. You will also be able to observe the carbon dioxide bubble sticking to the outside of the bear.

White Vinegar

Gummy bear soaked in vinegar

White Vinegar will have an acidic reaction with the gummy bear softening the outside of it, however the liquid is not as easily absorbed into the bear as water so the gummy may get softer but will not change in size as much as the bears soaked in water.


Gummy bear soaked in oil

Because oil is polar it doesn’t mix well with water or other substances. The oil will have very little effect on the bears and you will not see much change if any at all. This gummy bear will also retain its color the best because the oil isn’t breaking down the bear or being absorbed into it so the structure and color will remain the same.

Comparing the Results

The most fascinating part of this experiment is comparing the results of the different solvents. Set the gummy bears out side by side with their controls so you can visually see the differences.

Results of Gummy Bear Science Experiment

To get really scientific with your results, which is perfect for your older kids or kids needing more of a challenge, have them weigh and measure the gummies and compare results with the controls and each other.

You can also dissect the gummy bears and view them under a microscope to look for microscopic changes.

Extension Ideas

I think your kids will love this Gummy Bear Lab experiment on Osmosis! Encourage your students to get creative and add other variations like adding things like salt or baking soda to the water to see if it changes the results. Or try other solvents.

Want more osmosis experiments? Try this Rainbow Water Beads Experiment or the Bouncy Egg Experiment which involves a chemical reaction and osmosis.

Want more gummy science? Check out our Gummy Mummies. Or make your own gummies! You can check out these recipes on the site: Valentine’s Day Gummies, Star Wars Gummies, Rainbow Dragon Egg Gummies.