Germ Buster Experiment

If 2020 taught us one thing (whew, a lot happened!) it was how impactful simple (but thorough) handwashing is in preventing the spread of germs. You’ve undoubtedly already instilled in your kid that (most) germs are bad, and that it is important to wash their hands. But do they know why it works?


It is impossible to see how washing your hands with soap keeps the germs away without a microscope… germs are small! Here is a fun, easy experiment to teach your kid about fighting germs and the power of washing their hands!

 All You Need: 

  • A shallow bowl  
  • Water 
  • Pepper 
  • Dish soap 

1. Fill half the bowl with water. This is the “air”, or any surface, really.

2. Sprinkle pepper onto the water. Make sure the surface of the water is coated with the pepper. These are the germs. Flavor-enhancing, yes, but germs for this experiment. 

3. Great, you have a bowl full of germs! Ask your kid what will happen if they stick a finger into the pepper water. This is what scientists call “making a hypothesis“, and your little scientist likely has a great theory.

4. Ask your kid to slowly stick their finger into the germ bowl. Remind them this is the only time you’ll ask them to intentionally touch germs! The germs should be sticking to their finger (unless they cheated and washed directly beforehand!). Was that their hypothesis? Why do they think that happened?

Parent Note- It happens because germs and dust aren’t attracted to water molecules (even invisible ones in the air), so they collect on the outside of the droplets, waiting for something they are attracted to, like skin.

5. Have your kid thoroughly wash their hands with dish soap (get rid of those germs!), singing the Birthday Song twice out loud to ensure their hands are thoroughly clean. 

6. Now, ask your kid to make a hypothesis about what they think will happen when they dip their freshly cleaned finger into the germ water. 

7. Dip that soapy kid finger into the pepper water. The germs should be moving away from their finger. Was that their hypothesis? Germs don’t like soap. The soap breaks them down and chases them away!  

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