ACS: Inquiry in Action - Matter is Made of Tiny Particles (Lesson 1.2): Dissolving M&Ms

Students place M&Ms in water and in a sugar solution to investigate the question: Will an M&M dissolve as well in a sugar solution as it does in plain water?


Students will be able to develop and explain a particle-level model to describe their observations of water dissolving the colored sugar coating of an M&M. Students will be able to use this model to develop an explanation for their observations of an M&M in a sugar solution.

Key Concepts

  • Dissolving a solid in a liquid depends on the interaction between the particles of the liquid (solvent) with the particles of the solid (solute).
  • Dissolving happens when the attraction between the particles of the solvent and solute are strong enough to overcome the attraction of the particles of the solute for each other.

NGSS Alignment

  • NGSS 5-PS1-1: Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.


So far, students have seen how the attraction and arrangement of particles are different in a solid, liquid, and gas.

In this lesson:

  • Students explore the interaction of two substances and see that they can use what they have learned about the interaction of particles to explain their observations.
  • Students place an M&M in water and see the colored sugar coating dissolve around the M&M.
  • Students help develop a model to explain that the attraction of water molecules for sugar and color (dye) molecules is a good explanation for why the sugar coating dissolves.
  • Students then test whether the coating dissolves as well in a sugar solution as it does in plain water.
  • Students then put three or four different colored M&Ms together in water and watch the coatings dissolve. Students will see a distinct “line” where the colors meet.
  • Students use molecular models to make an argument about why the dissolving M&Ms form a line.


Download the student activity sheet and distribute one per student when specified in the activity. The activity sheet will serve as the Evaluate component of the 5-E lesson plan.

Science Topics
Chemistry, Matter, Solubility & Saturation
K-6, Educator
5th Grade
Descriptions of PDFs

Lesson Plan (PDF) | Student Activity Sheet (PDF) | Student Reading (PDF) | Teacher Background (PDF) | Connections to NGSS (PDF)

What are you looking for?


ACS (American Chemical Society)

Website URL

Type of Resource

Lesson Plan
PDF File
Video (Instructional)

Assigned Categories