Setting up for our cranberries dance was fast and easy. We gathered three things: a clear cup, some clear carbonated soda pop (we used Sprite but you could something else) and dried cranberries.
We poured the carbonated soda pop into the glass and then dropped in a handful of dried cranberries. Within seconds they started floating to the surface and sinking back down, as if they were dancing!
The kids were mesmerized.
The Science Behind Dancing Cranberries
The kids were quick to observe hundreds of tiny bubbles attached to the wrinkled surface of the dried cranberries.
We talked about how the bubbles from the carbonated drink are filled with carbon dioxide. They are lighter than the water so they float to the surface and, when enough of them cling to the sides of the cranberries, they bring the cranberries with them as if they are wearing little life preservers.
The bubbles pop at the surface, making the cranberries sink back down to the bottom of the glass again.
Our dried cranberries danced up and down for several minutes!
Variations to Try
It’s always fun to turn a simple science activity like this into a real science experiment. Here are a few variations you can try. Remember to keep track of your results!
- Compare different carbonated drinks to see which one makes the dried cranberries dance the longest. Some drinks to try might be seltzer water, Sprite, ginger ale or 7-Up.
- Try adding different dried fruits like raisins, prunes or pineapple chunks. Do they dance like the cranberries do?
- Place the cranberries directly into the soda pop bottle and close the lid tightly. What happens?
- Dilute the soda pop in the glass with some water and observe how the cranberries behave differently.
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