Turn ordinary motionless gummy worms into creepy, wriggling "Frankenworms" in this easy science experiment.
- Gummy worms
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- Vinegar (dilute acetic acid)
- 2 glasses
- Scissors or kitchen shears
Let's Make Frankenworms!
- Use the scissors or kitchen shears to cut the gummy worms in half or into quarters lengthwise. You want long, thin strips of worms.
- Drop the worm strips in one glass. Add a couple of spoonfuls of baking soda and enough water to dissolve some of the baking soda. If all of the baking soda dissolves, add more until some undissolved powder remains.
- Let the worms soak in the baking soda solution for 15 minutes to half an hour.
- Pour vinegar into the other glass. Drop a baking-soda-soaked worm into the vinegar. What happens? At first, nothing appears to happen. Then, bubbles start to form on the surface of the worm. The worm starts to move. After some time, the reaction stops and the worm stills.
Why Do the Worms Move?
The gummy worms wriggle because a chemical reaction between baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (weak acetic acid) produces carbon dioxide gas. This is the same reaction that causes a baking soda and vinegar volcano to erupt lava! The tiny gas bubbles released by the reaction stick to the body of the gummy worms, eventually merging into bubbles big enough to float part of the worm. If the gas bubble detaches, it floats to the surface while that part of the gummy worm sinks back down.
Tips for Success
If your worms appear dead in the water, you may be able to revive them:
- See if you can cut the worms thinner. You may wish to ask an adult for help. A thinner gummy worm is a lighter gummy worm and thus much easier to make move. Thin worms absorb baking soda better, too.
- Try adding more baking soda to the soaking solution or soaking the worms longer. The baking soda needs to get into the gelatin that makes up the worms so that it can react with the vinegar to make bubbles.