Make Germs Scatter Science Demonstration

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

#Palmolive25Ways #CollectiveBias

Yes, dish liquid is great for washing dishes, but there are so many other fun uses for soap. In the classroom I loved using Palmolive dish soap to demonstrate the importance of using soap while washing hands. With this simple science demonstration you can give kids a vivid visual that will help them remember to use soap each time they wash their hands {hopefully!}.  And bonus! They’re also learning a little about surface tension along the way.

Make Germs Scatter~Simple Science Demonstration for Kids #Palmolive25Ways #shop

To get ready for the demonstration the girls and I went to Walmart to buy some Palmolive Ultra dish soap. After smelling all the dreamy scents we decided to get the Passion Fruit variety.


Back at home it was time for a little science. I gathered a bowl of water, black paper, and our Palmolive dish soap. Then I asked the girls to talk with me about what they know about soap and why we use it.

Materials for Germ Demonstration

After our chat I told them we were going to learn about how soap makes germs scatter, and I asked them to sprinkle some pepper into our bowl. (Don’t add too much or the demonstration will not work as well.) They observed how the pepper floats on the surface of our water, and I told them that was like germs on the surface of our skin.


Then we covered one finger with Palmolive dish soap. Our container was full so we just dipped a finger in, but you could also squirt the soap on the finger or dip a finger into a smaller container with soap poured in it.


Now for the big moment! And it’s a fast one, so make sure everyone is watching. Stick that finger into the water in the center of the bowl if possible. And POOF! Those “germs” scatter to the edge of the bowl. It’s quick, but powerful and kids remember that moment. Afterward we talked about how the “germs” are afraid of the soap and what we can learn from this demonstration.

This was always a powerful message that stuck with my kindergarteners when I was teaching in the classroom, and so far it’s had a lasting impression on my own girls as well.


A note about why this happens:

Inquisitive little scientists might want to know exactly why this happens since the pepper isn’t really “germs.” Basically the demonstration has more to do with the soap and water. The pepper just allows us to actually see what is happening. When soap is added to the water it lowers the surface tension of the water causing the water molecules on the surface to “scatter” or pull away from the point where you added the soap.

Watch the Demonstration Video

You can watch the full science demonstration in this short video.


More Uses for Soap

There are so many uses for soap. After you’ve tried this demonstration, you can find more ways to use Palmolive and enter the Palmolive dish liquid sweepstakes  here.  There are some very clever ideas! While you’re checking them out look at the details for the sweepstakes. You can enter to win a $2,000 Walmart gift card and weekly prizes.

Germ Demonstration for Kids

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  1. Such a impactful, but still simple way to teach kids about germs. I’m definitely going to do this! Thanks for sharing at the Love to Learn Linky.

  2. Brilliant way to use Palmolive dish soap outside of the kitchen! And so timely as many children are heading back to school now. I think this would be a great experiment to do just before cold and flu season too. #client

  3. Wow – that is really cool, and a brilliant way to learn about germs.

  4. Great experiment. I showed your video to my 4 year old, we both learned something. Pinning to my Science board.

  5. Hi, Stopping by from Mom’s Library linky. This is such a great science experiment. My 4 year old just asked why he has to wash his hands before he eats and I tried explaining but this will actually show him. Pinned!

  6. Stopping by from Mom’s Library linky to say hi and let you know how much I like your post. We are going to give this a try today. Even though my son is older I think he will still enjoy it. Pinned.

  7. Great idea! We’ve been talking about germs a lot lately. This is such a good way for kids to actually see what happens when they use soap. Will definitely give it a try. 🙂

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