What Kids Learn From This STEAM Activity
In the STEAM activity called “elephant toothpaste,” kids learn about a chemical reaction in a fun and engaging way. They mix hydrogen peroxide with yeast and dish soap to create a foamy eruption. This demonstrates the principles of chemistry and biology, as it’s a chemical reaction and involves the release of oxygen gas. It also introduces kids to the importance of safety precautions and measurements in science experiments. They also get to guess what might happen before they start and figure out how to fix things if it doesn’t go as planned. Overall, this activity sparks curiosity, teaches about chemical reactions, and provides a hands-on experience for young learners interested in science.
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What We Need For This STEAM Activity
- Safety Gear: Safety goggles to protect your eyes and gloves to protect your hands.
- Container: A large, empty plastic bottle or a tall and narrow container.
- Tray or Big container : A tray or a large container to prevent Elephant Toothpaste from spilling over.
- Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2): This is the main ingredient that causes the reaction. A 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, which is commonly found in most households and pharmacies, can be used for the “elephant toothpaste” experiment.
- Yeast or Potassium Iodide: You’ll need a catalyst to speed up the reaction. Common choices include yeast mixed with warm water or potassium iodide.
- Dish Soap: A squirt of liquid dish soap to create foam.
- Food Coloring: To make the foam colorful and visually appealing.
How to Do the STEAM Activity Elephant Toothpaste
- Put on safety goggles and gloves to stay safe.
- Place a bottle or container on a tray.
- Pour some hydrogen peroxide into the bottle (about half full).
- Add a few drops of dish soap to the peroxide and swirl it gently.
- Add a few drops of food coloring to make it colorful.
- In a separate container, mix 1 tbs of yeast with 3 tbs of warm water until it dissolves.
- Quickly pour the yeast mixture into the bottle with peroxide and step back.
- Watch the big foamy explosion happen! Remember, it can be messy, so be prepared and have fun!
*Adult supervision and help is required for this activity.
*To make the “elephant toothpaste” reaction produce more foam and rise up significantly, you need to increase the production of oxygen gas, which is responsible for the expansion of the foam. The key ingredient that contributes to the production of oxygen gas in this reaction is hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Using a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide will provide more reactants for the reaction, leading to the production of more oxygen gas. However, higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can be more hazardous. You should wear appropriate safety gear, work in a well-ventilated area, and take precautions to prevent any splashes or spills.
Variations & Challenges
- Vary the Hydrogen Peroxide Concentration: Experiment with different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and observe how it impacts the reaction.
- Create a Rainbow: Set up multiple smaller containers with different colored food dye, and then pour them into a larger container simultaneously to create a colorful “rainbow” elephant toothpaste.
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