Use This Cool Science Experiment To Show Your Kids Why Soap Is Important When Hand-washing

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Coronavirus Hand Washing: Use This Science Experiment to Show Kids Why Soap Is Important

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Use This Cool Science Experiment To Show Your Kids Why Soap Is Important When Hand-washing

© Romrodinka | Dreamstime.com

In March, while scrolling through TikTok for classroom inspiration, Miami pre-K teacher Amanda Lorenzo discovered a perfectly simple science experiment for the coronavirus age. Prior to the pandemic’s spread that soon after shut down all Florida schools, Lorenzo conducted a hand-washing experiment with her preschoolers and posted it to her Instagram. The clip quickly went viral. Parents and teachers raced to replicate it at home or school

How to Work From Home With Kids

The demonstration requires nothing more than a dish, water, dish soap and pepper. First, fill the dish with water. Once the water calms, shake in the pepper. You should have enough to gather in clumps, but the pepper should not completely mask the surface of the water. 

Have children dip their finger into the mixture. Allow them a moment to notice the pepper stuck to their finger before instructing them to clean the dirty finger and dip it in the dish soap. 

Once again, have them dip the same finger into the murky pepper water. Notice now how all the pepper quickly rushes away from their soap-soaked finger. 

Why does the pepper flee? Water molecules cling to each other via hydrogen bonds. The strength of these bonds creates surface tension, a liquid property that resists the entrance of external forces or materials such as the pepper. The pepper and water do not mix and the spices instead float above the water. 

Enter soap. Meant to break surface tension, soaps and other cleaners prompt the water molecules, desperate to stick together, to flee, carrying the pepper with them. 

Like the dish soap in the experiment, the soap you use to wash your hands can be classified as a surfactant — a substance that reduces surface tension. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, surfactant hand soap lifts soil and microbes off the skin, enabling a better clean. Not to mention hand-washers tend to scrub harder when using soap. 

This is why hand-washing must be done frequently and not be replaced with hand sanitizer. According to the CDC, hands should be scrubbed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing. Be sure to lather the back of your hands, in between fingers and beneath your nails as well. 

Related

Correctly washing your hands and ensuring your children do too is just one way to help the global community in the wake of this pandemic. You can also virtually check in on family members or consider other small acts of kindness. Finally, frequently washing hands with soap becomes one of many crucial ways to stop the spread of germs if caring for someone who is sick.