This little science experiment has the potential to send your students into a sneezing frenzy but is sure is an awesome way squeeze in some science fun! You can do this activity home to pass some time (get the kids away from those TV screens, if you know what I mean), or it can be taught as a lesson during a science class at school to accompany some theory. It even makes for a super cool party trick - I bet you most adults don't know the science behind this “magic” pepper trick!
Learn About Surface Tension: The Pepper Trick
This is one of those science demonstrations that will boggle the minds of kids and adults alike, that's why I mentioned that it would be a hit as a party trick! It’s quite nifty in that you don't need to buy any expensive ingredients and materials, in fact, you probably have everything you need in your cupboards already!
For this experiment you will need the following:
- Ground pepper
- A bowl or beaker
- Water at room temperature
- Dishwashing liquid
- One magic finger
- Half fill your beaker with water.
- Add about a teaspoon or two of pepper to your liquid. The pepper will gather and float on the top.
- Rub some dish soap on to the tip of your finger and then touch the water.
- Watch as the particles of pepper disperse and move to the side of this bowl!
The Science Bit
When the soap touches the water, the surface tension changes, and the pepper no longer floats on top. But the water molecules still want to keep the surface tension, so they pull back away from the soap, and carry the pepper along with them. After doing the experiment and talking about surface tension, let your kiddos take a turn using their magic finger.
While little learners might think you have the magic touch, this activity is all because of the wonderful world of science! It's quick and easy to prepare and is sure to keep young minds fascinated - especially if you let their little fingers have a turn!
Don't forget to have those tissue on hand, pepper has the tendency to make one SNEEZE!