If the coronavirus has taught us anything it’s the importance of washing our hands. WASH YOUR HANDS! It’s one of the most effective and easiest ways to combat the spread of germs and to protect ourselves from getting sick.
As parents, it’s one of the first lessons we teach our kids.
If you were to do a survey, “Wash your hands,” is probably the phrase we repeat the most, especially now.
But if you have kids you know that getting them to wash their hands thoroughly can be challenging. Kids aren’t always the best at following instructions. They like to take shortcuts.
They tend to do a quick rinse and pat and soap is optional. If they wash their hands AT ALL. And trust me when I say, those little fingers? Have seen and touched all kinds of nasty. Because kids are gross.
But now there’s a cool experiment that you can do with your kids to show them just how important handwashing and soap really are. Seeing truly is believing.
The elementary school science project is going viral on Instagram and Twitter and it illustrates the power of soap in combating germs.
Amanda Lorenzo, a 23-year-old kindergarten teacher in the Miami-Dade County Public School district, originally posted it on her Instagram account, mandysmunchkins.
She first learned of the experiment from TikTok after searching for ideas on how to teach her students about germs in light of current events and the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Learning about the importance of washing our hands!? I wish you all could’ve seen how truly shocked they were that the “virus,” (pepper) moves away from the soap! So much fun and very informative! The things you learn from #TikTok ? #prekactivities #coronaviruspreventiontips #dabbooratnani
The experiment uses 3 ingredients – pepper, water, and liquid soap. One dish, referred to as the “virus water,” contains the pepper and water.
The other dish houses the liquid soap. In the video, Lorenzo has one of her students, Esau, dip her finger into the “virus water.”
She asks her class:
“Did the virus move at all? Did any of the pepper flakes move?”
The students respond no. She then has Esau dip the same finger into the soap and clean her finger. Once cleaned, she has her put his soap-covered finger back into the virus.
The result? The pepper quickly disperses and moves to the opposite side of the dish.
The experiment clearly demonstrates just how crucial soap is when it comes to fighting viruses.
And it definitely made an impact on the kids. Amanda tells Today Parents in an interview:
“I was really just doing this to show the importance of washing your hands, whether this happens with the coronavirus. The rest of the day — after everything obviously, after going to the bathroom, after we came back from lunch, before going to lunch, after going to the playground — they were like, ‘We need to wash our hands!’ It was a constant thing for the rest of the day.”
The experiment does have its critics with people complaining that pepper is not a virus and it’s “fake science.” In addition, Lorenzo’s explanation is not scientifically accurate. The reason the pepper scatters is that the soap is breaking down the surface tension of the water.
This is fake science. The reason the particles scatter is coz the soap breaks the surface tension. The reason soap is effective against the corona virus is coz it melts the lipid membrane of the virus. Sure, the gimmick can attract kids, but the two things are entirely separate.
— ashic #FBPE (@ashic) March 14, 2020
Her explanation is misleading. What you’re seeing here is soap breaking down the surface tension of the water. As a result, the pepper sinks & scatters away. Washing your hands wont make the ‘virus move away’ – washing your hands removes the dirt and bacteria on the hands
— Eddie (@eddie_isdead) March 14, 2020
But other people say that the scientific explanation doesn’t really matter.
What matters is the visual that this is showing the kids, and the impact it has.
The kids see what soap does to the “virus” and that in itself is more than enough to convince them to wash their hands. And quite frankly, if this is going to get my kids to wash their hands, WITH SOAP, I’m HERE FOR IT.
Ppl be like, “but that’s not a real experiment cuz pepper isn’t a virus!!!”
You think kids are gonna figure that out? Or just go, “wow! I better wash my hands really good!”???
Damn! These aren’t Biochem majors. They’re kids. It’s just making a very important point.
— Twelfth Warrior (@OHWildBill) March 13, 2020
Lorenzo is happy to report that her students are washing their hands at home as well. Clearly her message did exactly what she hoped it would.
“It stuck with them. It’s something fun that they saw and especially as visual learners, they just see it and are like, ‘Wow, a visual representation of what really happens to germs when you wash your hands.’”
The CDC recommends washing your hands multiple times a day. According to their website we should all be washing our hands in the following instances:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
In addition, you need to scrub your hands WITH SOAP for a minimum of 20 seconds to clean off any bacteria.
As we continue to see the growing impact of coronavirus on the world, it’s crucial that we all do our part to try to minimize its spread. Wash your hands.
Teach your kids to wash their hands. Spend a few minutes and do the experiment with them. It may just save someone’s life.