Sharky-Locks and the Three Gummi Bears

Need another excuse to buy candy this October?  Like cheap entertainment? Of course you do! How about some do-it-yourself grow-animals? For a buck or two, you can have a hundred edible expanding critters of your very own.

You need a few gummi bears or other gummi snacks (I grant you they are of questionable nutritional value, but they have their uses) and water. That’s pretty much it — see what we mean about cheap? 

I started with three gummi bears and one much larger gummi shark which had a disturbing layer of opaque white gummi on the bottom. 

If you want to know how much your gummi critters grow, you might want to trace around them or measure them, or just set some of your gummy snacks aside for comparison later. I had an electronic balance handy, so I used it, but that’s definitely not necessary:


The growing:  You need a container that can hold your gummi animals with a little room for expansion, and enough water to keep them covered:

And now we wait.  You may notice some expansion an hour after you begin, but your animals will look significantly bigger after 12-24 hours in water.  A few things to note: If you plan to eat your critters once they expand, please refrigerate them during the soaking process (this may slow their expansion somewhat, but you will also slow the growth of not-so-delicious bacteria). Whether you are refrigerating or not, set your critters somewhere and leave them alone as much as possible; if they jostle around too much, they may just dissolve and leave you with an unimpressive pool of colored sugar-water.

After a 20-hour soak, one of the bears intimidates his dry brother:


The “after” measurements:

This bear grew about three times as large as it was originally, and the shark about twice as large (it might have expanded further if given more time but it fell apart after being handled.)

Here’s a brief explanationof growing gummi snacks.

Extensions to try:  Soak your critters in distilled water, salt water, soda or juice, or try soaking an expanded critter in salt water.  Do some brands of bears hold up better or expand more?

(In case you were curious: Yes, you can spell it either way: gummi or gummy.)

Mystery Skeleton – Update 2

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Post three – The experimentation continues…

Grass clippings got in my vat o’ bones and turned everything green.  The Bone Builders Notebook indicated that this was bad and probably permanent. Hmmm. Drastic action had to be taken. 

A quick trip to Wal-mart and 12 bottles of Hydrogen peroxide later I returned to the house for further experimentation.

The week previous, I had dinner with Dave, and Dr. Bakker and my little project was brought up.  I know that it isn’t dinner conversation for most people, a soaking mystery skeleton, but you’d be surprised how often stuff like that comes up when you work at a science museum. Anyway, I was telling Dr. Bakker, who has articulated skeletons before, that I was feeling confident-ish about the degreasing of the bones, but I wasn’t sure if it would be better to have an articulated skeleton (one where ligaments and whatnot are still attached to help keep the bones in the right order) or an disarticulated skeleton (each bone is separate and you have to put the puzzle back together).  After a bit of discussion, I decided to go with disarticulated. It doesn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference, but when you consider that there are about a 100 tiny bones in the hands and feet of a canid, not to mention the tail bones, it felt a little daunting, BUT, as with most projects I tackle, a total lack of knowledge or skill isn’t going to stand in my way.

So, back to the hydrogen peroxide…

Once I decided to go with disarticulated, the green bones weren’t so daunting. Hydrogen peroxide will slowly bubble all the ligaments and meat off the bones, but it will also bleach the bones of the grass stains. After a good soak, I was able to get most of the green off and the cartilage between the vertebrae totally disintegrated.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Mystery Bone Update.