July 23rd, 2024

Science Smarts: For the Olympians who couldn’t come

By Patty Rooks on October 21, 2023.

It has finally arrived… the Praxis Family Science Olympics is today!!

Do not delay, head on down to Medicine Hat College for an exciting hour or two of engaging hands on science fun for the entire family. I guarantee there will be something for everyone. In case you can’t make it, here is a fun activity from a past Family Science Olympics you can try out at home. Let’s get started!

*Remember to ask an adult before doing this experiment.


– One can of diet soda

– One can of regular soda

– Two empty film canisters

– Empty aquarium or clear plastic bowl/container

– One film canister filled with Granular Splenda® or similar sugar substitute

– One film canister filled with granulated sugar

– Water

– 250 mL (one cup) of Granular Splenda® or similar sugar substitute put into a zipper baggie

– 250 mL white sugar put into a zipper baggie

– Duct tape


1. You need to hide which can of soda is diet and which is regular, so cover it up as best you can with duct tape (not too much) so no one knows.

2. Hold up the bags of Splenda® and Sugar, what do you notice about them?

3. Which one is lighter? Which is heavier?

4. Fill the bowl/aquarium with water and place it on a sturdy surface.

5. Make a hypothesis or prediction. What do you think will happen?

6. Float the film canisters in the container of water, which one floats? Which one sinks?

7. Now float the two cans of pop in the water, based on your previous experiences which can is the Regular pop? And the Diet pop?

What is going on?

When you pick up the baggies of the sugar and the granular Splenda®, you should have observed that the Splenda® is much lighter. This is due to the chemical composition of the substances. In the same way that the Splenda® is lighter the sweetener is lighter too, and therefore it will float in the water, and the sugar will sink.

When you float the two different pop cans, the diet pop will float and the regular pop will sink. This is because of what is used to sweeten them. The diet pop has the lighter sweetener in it, and the pop has lots of the heavier sugar in it, therefore there densities are different, and that is why you can tell the difference between them by floating them.

The Praxis Family Science Olympics will be at Medicine Hat College today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. As always this is a free event if you attend with at least one adult over the age of 18. I hope to see you there!

Patty Rooks, Senior Scientific Consultant PRAXIS, “Connecting Science To The Community”. Contact Praxis at praxis@praxismh.ca, http://www.praxismh.ca, Tweet or follow us @PraxisMedHat, or friend us on Facebook. Address: #12 826 11 Street S. E., Medicine Hat, Alberta, T1A 1T7 Phone: 403-527-5365, email: praxis@praxismh.ca.

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