Skittle Easter egg symmetry

We've done the popular Skittle colour diffusion experiment before and it provided a little colourful entertainment and a bit of science learning for my 3 year old. I thought given that Easter is coming up and cabin fever is setting in that we could make an egg-speriment (sorry...!) which was also a simple maths activity with the leftover Skittles.

Half of an egg shape made by me

I set out a half egg shape on a plate, made with different colours of Skittles. I challenged my son to make the other side of the egg symmetrical. This was actually a good fine motor skill activity in carefully placing the sweets, as well as practicing some basic pattern recognition and symmetry skills.

Placing skittles to form the other side of the symmetrical pattern

He did a pretty good job of working out the order of the Skittles and putting them in the right places.  The double colours flummoxed him briefly and he needed a bit of help to stop the last few rolling everywhere as he tried to make the egg shape meet at the bottom.  It ended up a bit wobbly, but that doesn't really matter. We talked through the sequence of colours on each side to check they were the same and then he poured some water in the middle.

Finished (slightly wobbly) symmetrical pattern

We watched together for a couple of minutes as his Easter egg shaped creation filled in with stripes of colours.  Sadly it didn't stay symmetrical (probably because some Skittles are flatter than others so a wider band of colour dissolves and spreads out at the start). I wrote more about the science last time we did it and we experimented with changing the sugar gradient (see link above if you're interested), but this time it was more about the pattern and shape.

Colours starting to diffuse after adding water

It was a quick activity that fitted his 5 minute attention span when he was getting tired and irritable.  No Skittles were wasted either because, although my son still doesn't realise they are edible, I'm not above eating a plateful of soggy Skittles when I'm confined to the house all day with two small boys...!

After two or so minutes

At the moment I'm conscious it's not always easy to obtain the same things we use to replicate our activities if you want to try them with your children too.  The symmetry element of this activity could be done by placing pom poms, dot stickers, pieces of coloured paper or whatever small parts you have available. The diffusion part needs a sweet/candy with a coloured sugar shell, and I think M&Ms also work although I've not tried them myself.

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