Fruit Juice Mystery

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In this chemistry challenge, learners work to figure out which of four juices are real, and which is just food coloring and sugar. Learners add vinegar (an acid) and washing soda solution (a base) to grape juice, cranberry juice, blueberry juice, and a fake juice mixture. The real juices will change color as an acid or base is added, while the fake will not. Background information briefly discusses how the colored chemicals in fruits are often themselves weak acids and bases, and how many plants have been used as sources of acid/base indicators. This activity requires adult supervision.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 5 laminated reaction grids
  • 5 plastic dropping bottles containing vinegar (5% acetic acid)
  • 5 plastic dropping bottles containing washing soda solution
  • 20 plastic dropping bottles with juices
  • Grape, cranberry and blueberry juices
  • Red and blue food color
  • A container of clean water
  • Paper towels for spills
  • A safe container to dump solutions into and seal (waste container)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases
      • Solutions
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Crime Science
  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Sources:

  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
  • American Chemical Society