Electric Eels

Electric Eels

With school back in full swing, the excitement around learning has escalated in our house! My son started kindergarten this year and so far he’s LOVING it. The first week, he came home thrilled about some of the experiments they were doing in science class. I was ecstatic he was already doing projects like this the first week in! Truth of the matter is, this excitement around learning shouldn’t just revolve around what kids are doing at school, it should flow through to what you’re doing and teaching at home, too.

There are SO many fun and easy experiments you can do at home with your kids that can provide hours of entertainment for both you and them. This Electric Eels experiment involves “marinating” gummy worms in a mixture of water and baking soda and then bringing them to life in a glass of vinegar. I first discovered this project from KitchenPantryScientist.com while browsing YouTube one day, and we all had so much fun with it!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Materials

  • 2 Glasses
  • Small dish
  • Fork
  • 4-6 Gummy worms
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Cut each gummy worm lengthwise at least four times with a kitchen shears.
  2. In a glass mix the water and the baking soda.
  3. Add the gummy worms to the baking soda mixture and mix.
  4. Let the gummy worms sit in the baking soda mixture for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the gummy worms with a fork to a small dish.
  6. Pour the 1/2 cup of vinegar into the empty glass and begin to add the gummy worms one at a time.

Worm steps

To achieve more “animation,” after we cut our worms lengthwise four times, we cut a few of them into smaller sections as well. This will make some of the smaller pieces float to the top of the glass and bounce around more, adding to the effect. 😉 The best part is, you can reuse the worms and redo the experiment a few times over if you’d like. It helps to have a strainer nearby to drain the gummy worms and then rinse them with water before starting over again. After you do this a few times, you may notice that your worms are starting to dissolve. That’s when you probably need to round up your second batch of worms and start the cutting ceremony all over again.

Honestly, the cutting was probably the most difficult part and I would suggest having an adult take care of this. If the scissors starts to get “gummy,” wash it off with soap and water before you start cutting the next worm.

Here you can see the worms in action. THEY’RE ALIVE!!

Electric Eels in motion

The worms (or eels) start to jump and wriggle as the acetic acid (AKA vinegar) reacts with the sodium bicarbonate (AKA baking soda) to form bubbles on the worms. They jump around, for quite a long time actually, until the chemical reaction stops.  Have fun with this experiment and don’t forget to bring the excitement for learning into your home!

Electric Eels


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Comments

  1. The only thing I foresee as being difficult with this experiment is keeping enough gummie worms for the experiment when I show it to my son. Oh well I guess I will just have to buy two bags of worms. It would just be mean to tell him no he cannot have any worms to nibble on in the name of science.

  2. Hi, Sara, I was wondering if you knew whether the sour Trolli gummy worms would work. They’re coated with sugar. I had to buy those because they’re the kind I like and, well, we can only experiment so many times before I need to eat the gummy worms. Thanks!

    • Hi Holly! I would think they would work just fine. The secret to quick, dancing worms is how thinly you can slice them. Good luck and enjoy your leftover worms AFTER the experiment! 🙂

  3. This is a great experiment. We are going to do this on Halloween as part of a Mad Scientist school party. Can you tell me if the “eels” can soak for more than 15 minutes, or do they get gummy? I am trying to figure out a way to get 21 scientists to do this experiment. 🙂 Thank you!

    • Hi Dawn, yes you can soak them for more than 15 minutes – they should be fine! Your school party sounds like a blast – the kids are going to be so excited!

  4. Hi,
    I was wondering if you need to soak the gummy worms right before the experiment, or if I can soak them the evening before (just for the sake of time)? Thanks! This looks so cool and I know my kids are going to love it!

    • Hi Jessica, I would try and soak them before the experiment. If they sit in liquid too long they start to disintegrate. You may wake up to some sad looking worms if you soak them the evening before. Good luck!

  5. I shared this fabulous idea on my blog today in the Boy Mom Madness recap!! My boys would LOVE!

  6. claoclao2002@yahoo.com says:

    Hello! Tried the experiment at home, but the worms did not float, they laid still in the bottom. Plus I noticed they were starting to disintegrate. Should I leave them less time in the baking soda?

    • I think you’ll need to slice your worms thinner. It sounds like the worms just are too heavy to float. Slice them really, really thin next time and see if that makes a difference. It should!

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