4Warn weather lab: Elephant toothpaste experiment

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — It’s back-to-school time and meteorologists Emily Sutton and Damien Lodes are sharing fun experiments to get kids excited about science.

ELEPHANT TOOTHPASTE EXPERIMENT

Ingredients:

  • Empty, clean plastic bottle
  • Dry Yeast
  • Warm Water
  • Liquid Dish Soap
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Safety Glasses
  • Food Coloring

Directions:

This experiment uses chemicals and requires adult supervision! Elephant toothpaste is harmless but can be messy. Make sure to do the experiment outside or on top of an easily cleanable surface (in a bathtub, in a disposable container, on foil, etc).

  1. Fill bottles with 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Add a generous squirt of dish soap and swirl to mix.
  3. Add food coloring of choice. If you drip the food coloring down the sides without mixing, the toothpaste will appear striped or swirled!
  4. Mix 1 Tablespoon of yeast with 3 Tablespoons of warm (not hot!) water and mix for at least 30 seconds.
  5. Put on your safety goggles and place a funnel into the bottle.
  6. Pour the yeast mixture into the funnel and step back!
  7. Watch your elephant toothpaste! It is safe to touch.
  8. Experiment using different size and types of bottles. 
  9. Ask the kids what they think causes the reaction.

Explanation:

The yeast acts as a catalyst, tearing apart the hydrogen peroxide (H202) into water (H20) and oxygen (0). The dish soap traps the oxygen bubbles trying to escape, creating foam!  Notice a temperature change around the bottle after the reaction? It will likely feel warmer, due to an exothermic reaction – the reaction generates heat!

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