Valentine’s Month in Genius Numbers: Meet Inventor Oliver Chase and Experiment with Candy Heart Water

December 6, 2021 / DIY & Printable

Genius content refreshes every month! This month, let’s learn about love—in all its forms!—and the Geniuses who’ve helped make Valentine’s Day so sweet.

We’ve compiled limited-time game updates, real-life genius stories, and educator-approved activities into interactive printables, designed to enhance your little kids’ learning. Access this week’s printable by clicking the button below:

Game Update

Check out Osmo Numbers for a limited-time “trip” to the rosy Red Sea, where many fish are in symbiotic relationships. Awww!

Genius Spotlight: Oliver Chase

Did you know conversation hearts started as medicine? It’s true!

Back in the 1800s, when people got sore throats, it was common to eat something called an apothecary lozenge. Pharmacists made these by mixing sugar paste and medicine, then cutting them into tablets by hand.

Oliver Chase, a pharmacist in Boston, had an idea to speed up this process: a tablet-cutting machine! With this invention, all you had to do was feed the sugar dough in, then crank it through.

Business started booming, so Oliver and his brother opened up a factory. They removed the medicine and started selling their lozenges as candy wafers. Then, in 1866, the brothers invented a new machine to add messages onto the candies. It used a felt roller pad, soaked with dye…like a big stamp!

Eventually the candies started being cut into their famous heart shape, now called Sweethearts®. Roughly 8 billion of the message-stamped treats are made each year.
Anytime you see Sweethearts® (or Necco Wafers, Oliver’s original creation!), you can think of the pharmacist who made life a little sweeter with the first candy-making machine.

Real-World Activity: Candy Heart Water Experiment

Try this educator-approved activity at home. This week’s printable (button above) has instructions with photos!

Lots of fun can be had with a box of conversation hearts. To see for yourself, grab:

  • a few clear glasses, cups, or jars
  • some hot water
  • something to write with
  • box of conversation hearts


  1. Count how many hearts of each color are in your box.
  2. Have a grown-up pour equal amounts of hot water in each glass, about 1”-2”.
  3. Drop your yellow hearts into one glass, pinks hearts in the next, and so on.
  4. Stir and watch what happens to your hearts and the water.

It won’t be instant, but the hearts will eventually dissolve. That’s because they are “soluble.” In chemistry, solubility is a substance’s ability to dissolve in water.

Enjoy your heart water! Try arranging the glasses into a rainbow or mixing colors.