This 3-Ingredient "Experiment" Teaches Your Kids the Importance of Handwashing

My kids have had lots of questions this week, ranging from "why can't we go to the playground?" to "can we see the coronavirus?" to "why do I have to wash my hands again?!" Although I am still trying to figure out how to explain much of this to my young kids, a quick-and-easy science experiment that has gone viral on Instagram is at least helping me to answer that last query.

Amanda Lorenzo, a preschool teacher in Miami, posted a video of this three-ingredient exercise that demonstrates the importance of handwashing to keep from catching — and spreading — germs.

Here's how it works:

  1. Fill a plate with water and then shake some pepper flakes on top.

  2. Put your finger in the water. Notice how it gets covered in pepper flakes!

  3. Coat another finger in hand soap and then put it in the water. Watch the pepper move away!

"I wish you all could've seen how truly shocked they were that the 'virus' moves away from the soap," she wrote in her caption. "So much fun and very informative!"

I tried it with my 3- and 5-year-old kids, and they both audibly gasped when their soap-coated finger repelled the pepper. Then, they demanded a repeat. Take a look:

Parents stuck at home with kids, this is worth trying. I can guarantee you already have everything you need in your kitchen (remember, it's just water, pepper, and soap), and it took less than two minutes to set up. But the best part? My kids are way more excited to wash their hands than ever before. Between that and their readily available cough pocket, I think we're getting somewhere.