Chemistry (and the Value of Education)

Categories: Developing Talents

Duration: 1.5 hours


  • Strips of paper with advice about education printed or written on them (see #4 in activity)
  • For the Pepper Trick:
    • Pepper
    • Dish soap
    • Toothpicks
    • Glass of water
  • For the Food Coloring and Milk Trick:
    • Milk
    • A dish or pie plate
    • Blue, red, and yellow food coloring
    • Detergent
    • Cotton swab
  • For Exploding Baggies:
    • Paper towels
    • Baking soda
    • Vinegar
    • water
    • Ziploc bag
  • For the Elephant Toothpaste:
    • Hydrogen Peroxide
    • Empty water bottle
    • Food coloring
    • Dish soap
    • Small cup
    • Warm water
    • yeast
  • For Diet Coke and Mentos:
    • Bottle of coke or other soda
    • One Mentos candy
  • For Gak/Flubber:
    • 8 ounce bottle of Elmer’s Glue
    • 1.2 cup warm water
    • wooden spoon
    • food coloring
    • 1 tsp borax powder


  • Set out as many science experiments before hand as you can. E.g. water in cups, milk in bowls etc, food colouring ready etc. Have all other ingredients at hand ready to go.


The Lord Wants You to Be Educated

1. To discuss with the girls: (D&C 88:78–80) You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, “Teach ye diligently . . . of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things”

2. President Hinckley said: “Resolve now, while you are young, that you will get all of the education you can. We live in a highly competitive age, and it will only grow worse. Education is the key that will unlock the door of opportunity. Don’t just drift along, letting the days come and go without improvement in your lives. The Lord will bless you as you make the effort. Your lives will be enriched and your outlook broadened as your minds are opened to new vistas and knowledge.”

3. Education is an important part of Heavenly Father’s plan to help you become more like Him. He wants you to educate your mind and to develop your skills and talents. The education you gain will be valuable to you during mortality and in the life to come.

4. Cut the following into strips and place in a bowl. Have the children draw a strip and read the advice about education.

  • Education will prepare you for greater service in the world and in the Church.
  • It will help you better provide for yourself, your family, and those in need.
  • It will also help you be a wise counselor and companion to your future spouse and an informed and effective teacher of your future children.
  • Education is an investment that brings great rewards and will open the doors of opportunity that may otherwise be closed to you.
  • Plan now to obtain an education.
  • Be willing to work diligently and make sacrifices if necessary.
  • Share your educational goals with your family, friends, and leaders so they can support and encourage you.
  • Maintain an enthusiasm for learning throughout your life.
  • Find joy in continuing to learn and in expanding your interests.
  • Choose to actively participate in the learning opportunities available to you.
  • Your education should include spiritual learning.
  • Study the scriptures and the words of the latter-day prophets.
  • Participate in seminary and institute.
  • Continue throughout your life to learn about Heavenly Father’s plan.
  • This spiritual learning will help you find answers to the challenges of life and will invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

5. Read D&C 88:118. Discuss what it means to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”

6. Now, we’ve all agreed that education is important. The more educated we are, the better job choices we will have in our future, and the more rounded we will be. We’re going to do some activities now. These science experiments are to show you that education can be a lot of fun too.


Sprinkle pepper on the top of a glass of water. Dip a toothpick in the center of the pepper. What Happens? Put a drop of dish soap on a toothpick and dip in the center of the pepper. What happens?

Why does the pepper “run away”? The pepper moves quickly to the sides of the glass because the soap breaks the surface tension. Surface tension occurs when the hydrogen in water molecules bond or stick to one another as well as the water below. At the surface, this holds the substance together and makes it behave as though it is coated by an invisible film.


  1. Carefully pour some milk in a dish so it just covers the bottom.
  2. Gently add one or two drops of red, blue, and yellow food coloring to the same spot in the center of the milk.
  3. Dip a cotton swab in your detergent, then gently touch the center of the food coloring. (Do not stir!)
  4. Push the cotton swab down in the same spot all the way to the bottom of the plate and hold it there.
  5. Dip a new cotton swab in the detergent. Then touch different areas of food coloring along the edge of the plate to see if the color will move again.

The first time you touch the food coloring with detergent, the color should zoom to the edge of the plate. When you hold the cotton swab down longer, the color should swirl up from the bottom of the plate. When you touch the food coloring at the edge of the plate, the color should move around, mix, and make cool designs.

How does it work? The milk is made mostly of water molecules, but it also has fat molecules and protein molecules which are bigger than water molecules. The detergent is made up of detergent molecules. The cool thing about the different molecules is that they have positive and negative charges in different areas. Some molecules or parts of molecules have no charges.

When you first put the detergent on the milk, the negative end of the detergent molecules line up with the positive end of the water molecules. This causes the detergent molecules to zoom out in every direction over the surface of the milk and push the food coloring out toward the edge of the plate.

And when you dip the detergent down into the milk or bring it to the food coloring at the edge of the plate, there is usually some more swirling and movement of color. The negative charge on the detergent molecules are attracted to the positive parts of the protein molecules. And the uncharged part of the detergent molecules lines up with the uncharged fat molecules.

There is a lot of moving as the detergent and other molecules twist and turn and switch around and different parts of the molecules come together. The food coloring molecules interact and ride along with all the other molecules, and that’s what makes the colors move!


  • Tear a paper towel into a square shape. (We ripped off one piece of a select-a-size roll and then tore that piece in half to make a square. It doesn’t have to be perfect!)
  • Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda onto the center of your paper towel square.
  • Fold your paper towel up so you’ve created a little packet of baking soda and set it aside.
  • Place 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of vinegar into your baggie. (Add some food coloring if you’d like!)
  • Head outside and find a spot to explode your baggie. Carefully and quickly drop the packet of baking soda into the baggie and seal it shut completely. Give it a little shake, set it down, move away, and watch what happens!


  • Hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin and eyes, so put on those safety goggles and ask an adult to carefully pour 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the bottle.
  • Add 8 drops of your favorite food coloring into the bottle.
  • Add about 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap into the bottle and swish the bottle around a bit to mix it.
  • In a separate small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together and mix for about 30 seconds.
  • Now the adventure starts! Pour the yeast water mixture into the bottle (a funnel helps here) and watch the foaminess begin!

The foam you made is special because each tiny foam bubble is filled with oxygen. The yeast acted as a catalyst (a helper) to remove the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Since it did this very fast, it created lots and lots of bubbles. Did you notice the bottle got warm. Your experiment created a reaction called an Exothermic Reaction – that means it not only created foam, it created heat!  The foam is totally safe to touch (and so soft and puffy!) – the peroxide (H2O2) is broken down in the reaction – so there isn’t any left.  It leaves behind water (H20) and oxygen (O2) only – so again, completely safe to handle.


Although there are a few different theories around about how this experiment works, the most favoured reason is because of the combination of carbon dioxide in the Diet Coke and the little dimples found on Mentos candy pieces.

The thing that makes soda drinks bubbly is the carbon dioxide that is pumped in when they bottle the drink at the factory. It doesn’t get released from the liquid until you pour it into a glass and drink it, some also gets released when you open the lid (more if you shake it up beforehand). This means that there is a whole lot of carbon dioxide gas just waiting to escape the liquid in the form of bubbles.

Dropping something into the Diet Coke speeds up this process by both breaking the surface tension of the liquid and also allowing bubbles to form on the surface area of the Mentos. Mentos candy pieces are covered in tiny dimples (a bit like a golf ball), which dramatically increases the surface area and allows a huge amount of bubbles to form.


8 ounce bottle of Elmer’s Glue. Empty the entire bottle of glue into the large mixing bowl. Fill the empty bottle with warm water put the lid on and shake. Pour the glue-water mixture into the mixing bowl and use the wooden spoon to mix well.

Add a drop or two of food colouring.

Measure 1/2 cup of warm water into the small mixing bowl and add a teaspoon of Borax powder to the water. Stir the solution – don’t worry if all of the powder dissolves. This Borax solution is the secret linking agent that causes the Elmer’s Glue molecules to turn into slime.

While stirring the glue in the mixing bowl, add the Borax solution to the glue mixture. Immediately you’ll feel the long strands of molecules starting to connect.

Once it has gotten pretty gooey it’s time to abandon the spoon and use your hands to do the serious mixing. Keep adding the Borax solution to the glue mixture (don’t stop mixing) until you get a perfect batch of Elmer’s slime.

When you’re finished playing with your Elmer’s slime, seal it up in a zipper-lock bag for safe keeping.

Closing Remarks

Encourage the children to improve their personal study habits and have them commit to increasing their education by doing such things as choosing and reading good books, being prepared for school each day, and fully participating in class etc.

Bear testimony of the importance of education.

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