Today’s STEAM Activity is Dancing Raisins! This activity is so simple but is incredibly fun and entertaining for kids. There are two ways to do this experiment: with Sprite or with baking soda and vinegar. We tested and had a blast with both methods, so I’m sharing both methods in today’s post. 

My kids loved the Sprite method because we rarely drink soda, so drinking Sprite during the experiment was a special treat. I let them sip the Sprite before the experiment, then they drank raisin filled the Sprite after the experiment, and they ate the Sprite soaked raisins.

It worked really well, and was so easy with just 2 ingredients needed. The raisins immediately begin to rise and fall (appearing as if they are jumping or dancing), and continued to move until the soda went flat. If your kids drink the Sprite and eat the raisins (like mine did), then this is a zero waste experiment!

The baking soda and vinegar experiment worked great too. My kids loved this experiment because baking soda and vinegar reactions are always explosive fun. The vinegar overflowed out of our cup when when my son added the baking soda, and my kids were overjoyed with excitment (even though this wasn’t the point of the experiment, I think it was their favorite part).

Then the raisins began dancing exactly like they did with the Sprite method, and continued to move for the whole morning. This experiment is not taste safe like the Sprite experiment, and I DO NOT recommend eating the raisins that have been soaked in baking soda and vinegar or drinking the vinegar.

The baking soda and vinegar reaction created more vigorous movement from the raisins and got more raisins moving at once, but both methods worked quickly and very well for us. 


Sprite Method

MATERIALS:

  • Raisins
  • Sprite (or clear carbonated beverage of your choice)
  • Clear cup

PROCEDURE:

  1. Fill a clear cup ~2/3 full with Sprite.

2. Drop in raisins and watch them rise and fall in the glass, carried by the carbonated bubbles in the Sprite.

3. If the movement slows down, try stirring the liquid, shaking the cup a bit, add more raisins, etc…to reinvigorate the bubbles.

4. Optional: Drink the Sprite and eat the Sprite soaked raisins.


Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

MATERIALS:

  • Raisins
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Clear cup
  • Large dish (to contain overflow)

PROCEDURE:

  1. Drop raisins to the bottom of a clear cup.

2. Fill the cup ~2/3 full with vinegar (the more full the greater chance of overflow when baking soda is added, my kids loved the overflow, but if you don’t want it to overflow, don’t add as much vinegar to the glass).

3. Slowly add about a tablespoon of baking soda, you will immediately see a bubbly reaction.

4. Once the baking soda and vinegar reaction calms, the raisins will begin to rise and fall in the liquid, carried by the bubbles created by the reaction.

5. If the movement slows down, try stirring the contents of the glass, adding more raisins, and/or add more vinegar and baking soda to get the reaction going again.


STEAM CONCEPTS LEARNED:

  • Science: The bubbles (from the carbonation in the soda or the baking soda and vinegar reaction) are attracted to the raisin. When they attach to the raisin they increase the raisin’s volume, but don’t increase the mass. Eventually when enough bubbles attach to a raisin, the density of the raisin becomes less than the density of the liquid and it rises to the top of the glass. The bubbles are released into the air at the top of the glass, so the raisin’s density increases again and it falls back to the bottom of the glass.
  • To learn more about the science behind the baking soda and vinegar reaction, please see my “3 Valentine’s Day themed Baking Soda and Vinegar Experiments for Toddlers” post all about baking soda and vinegar reactions. 

Don’t have raisins at home? No problem – this activity would also work with other light-weight solid foods such as rice, beans, or nuts. 

We spent our whole morning on this activity. My kids had such a blast with it, and have asked me if we can do it again several times since then. Every part of this activity was exciting to them – from the special treat of Sprite, to the dancing raisins, to the baking soda and vinegar explosion. 

Have you tried this dancing raisins experiment before? Which method are you going to try with your kids? Or why not try both like we did? 

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