Hand Washing Experiment



This activity has two parts. First, you’ll do an experiment to see the importance of handwashing. After that, you’ll create a digital or paper poster showcasing what you’ve learned.

Here is an additional resource to check out: Fox40: Science experiment shows importance of washing hands with soap.


Materials for the experiment:

  • Dish soap
  • Plate
  • Pepper
  • Water

Materials for the poster:

Project Steps

Step 1

Gather your materials! Pour a little water onto your plate. Add a few shakes of pepper to the water.

For this experiment, the pepper represents bad bacteria that can make us sick.

Step 2

Try touching the water. What happens?

You’ll notice the pepper will stick to your fingers.

Step 3

Put a little dish soap on your finger and put it back into the water.

Did you see what happens this time?

You should see that the pepper moves out of the way to the edge of the plate!

Step 4

This happens because of surface tension.

Surface tension is the attraction the molecules in a liquid have for each other. Think of the molecules sticking together to create a thin sheet on the surface of a liquid.

You can learn more about surface tension by watching this YouTube video from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum:

How Do Bugs Walk on Water? – Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum YouTube channel

Step 5

Soap is designed to break surface tension in order to wash all those germs away! The water molecules carry the bacteria (or pepper) away from your hands.

Step 6

Now it’s time to design a handwashing poster you could share with your family, school, or community site. Your poster should include the following:

  • How to properly wash your hands (warm water, soap, at least 20 seconds)
  • Why you think handwashing is important
  • Related images or drawings

Your poster can be themed however you like – you can include favorite characters, games, or other designs. Try to design something that will capture attention!

You can use paper and markers for your poster, or you can use Canva to create a digital one.

Provide Some Feedback

We have a quick feedback form to fill out once you’ve done this activity. Your thoughts help us improve our projects and make sure we’re providing content that people are interested in. Let us know what you think!

To provide feedback, head to https://dhf.io/ydu and fill out the form!

Sharing Your Project

Once you’re done, you can share a picture of your project! This is completely optional. We’ll be using these photos to create a project gallery. If you’re interested, please fill out the following form and upload a photo of your completed project.

To share your project, head to https://dhf.io/shareproject and fill out the form!

Here is a downloadable version of the activity. Please feel free to download and print this PDF!

Daily Prompts - Hand Washing Experiment