Elephant Toothpaste

This week, we spent most of girls science club trying diagnose the issue with our experiment. After many tests, we finally got it to work! Although this was not planned, problem solving is a huge part of being a scientist (and a graduate student…), so overall the hour was a success!

The experiment we attempted was called “Elephant Toothpaste“. As the name implies, the experiment entails creating a foam (from a chemical reaction) that looks similar to toothpaste you might expect an elephant to use. First, Sarabeth showed the girls a YouTube video of the experiment and we laid out a tarp to make cleaning efficient.

The reaction combined two solutions: (1) hydrogen peroxide + food coloring + dish soap with (2) warm water + yeast. Every girl got one mini water bottle to create their own reaction. We went around the room one at a time to test them. We were all very excited and then… nothing happened! The girls were very keen on figuring out why the reaction failed, so we tried different iterations of the experiment including adding more of each ingredient, warming up the water more, and speeding up the mixing. In the end we got it to work once, but I am still not sure why because we couldn’t replicate it.

Sometimes science experiments don’t go as planned and thats ok. We had a blast trying to figure out why the experiment failed and got to use our deductive reasoning skills.


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