Elementary School Science Experiment Shows Kids How Crucial Soap Is

This soap experiment is the hand-washing enthusiasm we need right now.

By now we've all seen the catchy 20-second hand-washing songs, we've heard over and over how important proper hand hygiene is, and, heck, even world leaders are telling citizens how to wash their hands! But sometimes, especially with kids, the message may not be received. Most kids like to see why rather than hear why. They know the coronavirus is a thing—that it's out there—but they may have trouble connecting the dots when it comes to washing their hands.

One elementary school teacher found the perfect way to illustrate the importance of not just washing, but washing with soap.


In the video, shared on Twitter, you can see a plate filled with water and black pepper. The teacher asks a student to stick their finger in the water, pull it out, and notice how the pepper sticks to the finger. She then instructs the student to stick her finger in a dish of liquid soap then place it back into the pepper mixture.

Girls washing hands with soap
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Like magic, the pepper flies across the surface of the water, away from the soapy finger.

According to Education.com, pepper is hydrophobic, which means it's repelled by water, so it doesn't sink or dissolve in water like salt. Also, it's super light, so it stays on the surface of the water. When soap is applied to the mixture, it breaks the surface tension of the water and the water molecules scoot away from the soap, taking the pepper along for the ride.

The science behind how soap works when washing hands isn't exactly the same, but it's close enough to convince kids that soap is magic, and really, don't we all need a little more magic right now?

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles