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Simple Science: Pepper Swim Away

By Mochi Bear

Here’s a very quick & simple science activity you can do with basic things in your kitchen, and it has a surprising effect!

What you’ll need:

  • A small bowl of water
  • Pepper
  • Drop of soap

Shake or grind the pepper to cover the surface of the water.

Ask your child what they expect will happen when you drop the soap in and why. What do other things do when you drop them into the water? Then drip a drop of soap into the middle (or put soap on your finger and touch the middle).

The pepper swims away!

Or “runs” as you can hear O saying excitedly:

Did it do something different than what your child expected? How interesting that adding soap to water can make it do something that you didn’t expect!

Water has a surface that allows light-weight things to float on it. This is how water bugs walk on water. But soap breaks this “skin”, like popping a balloon, so when the “skin” scoots away from where it was popped, the pepper goes with it! (See this great page for more variations and detailed explanation.)