When my brother was about three, my Dad found him pouring water from one cup to another with careful and deliberate concentration. He looked up at my Dad and said, “Careful Dad! I’m doing an experience.” We still laugh about that to this day. Even my six-year-old often confuses the terms experience and experiment interchangeably. And if you think about it, aren’t they really one and the same?
I work for a non-profit that promotes hands-on science for elementary kids, so I’m all about science experiments (or are they experiences?!) and often do them at home with my own children. Today I’m sharing an idea for combining the concepts of science AND kindness all into one. This experiment includes a fun experience in teaching kindness. My kids got a kick out of it and I hope yours do too!
The Toothpaste Experiment
Materials (one of each for home or for each team at school)
- Tube of toothpaste
- Paper plate
- Plastic spoon
- (If doing it in the classroom, break your students into teams.) Give each child/team a plate and tube of toothpaste.
- Have children/students take turns squeezing out all of the contents of the toothpaste tube.
- After they’re done, ask them to put the toothpaste back into the tube. Give them a spoon and see if that helps. Be sure to wish them good luck!
- The children will likely be able to get some of the toothpaste back in the tube, but they’ll quickly realize they will never be able to get ALL of it back in.
Bringing it back to the science experiment: depending on the age of the children, you can talk about pressure and vacuums… but the real message here is regarding kindness: just like getting toothpaste back into a tube, it’s impossible to take back mean or unkind words and get things back to the way they were. Encourage children to think it before they speak it!