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Soap’s Superpowers: How Soap Works

An At-Home STEM Lesson Plan Crafted by BGCHarlem STEM Specialist Chaelee Dalton


This week, we build upon previous lessons regarding healthy habits and preventing Coronavirus for our culminating lesson on handwashing.

In the previous lessons, students have explored different ways of getting rid of germs on their hands (handwashing vs sanitizer, different lengths of time) in order to determine the best way to get rid of germs.

In this lesson, we go on to tackle how soap actually gets rid of those germs, and what properties or qualities, or “superpowers” soap has that makes it so effective at getting rid of germs.

If your child cannot read, read the text out loud to them. Ask them the questions and have them respond and/ or solve on a separate sheet of paper.

If your child can read, simply give them the second page of this handout and have them read the text out loud or in their head. Materials: Blank paper, pen or pencil, internet access/YouTube

Addresses Common Core Standards: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.MD.A.1



Addresses NGSS Standards:





(You may click here to print the lesson or the student may view the lesson online and write his/her answers on a separate piece of paper)


Soap’s Superpowers: How Soap Works

Photo: Vox

The image above is a drawing of a soap particle, or a very, very small piece of soap. The soap particle has what scientists call a “head” and a “tail.” The “head” is attracted to water, and the “tail” is attracted to fat or oil. Germs or viruses like the Coronavirus are surrounded by a fatty layer called “lipid.”

On a separate piece of paper, draw a soap particle and then label the “head” and the “tail.” Next to your drawing, fill in your answers to these statements:

The soap particle looks like a _____________________ (be creative!), which also has two different parts. What are the two parts used for?

1. ______, which is used for __________________________________.

2. ______, which is used for __________________________________.

Older kids can make a hypothesis about why these two parts are important for handwashing.

I think the “head” of the soap particle is important for handwashing because:


I think the “tail” of the soap particle is important for handwashing because:


Now, watch this video to learn more about how soap works.

To learn some vocabulary from the video, click here.

On a separate piece of paper, write down the answers to these questions:

For older kids: My hypothesis was _____________ (correct/incorrect).

For everyone:

The head of the soap particle is important because ____________________________.

The tail of the soap particle is important because ______________________________.

Water by itself doesn’t get rid of germs because ______________________________.

Watch the video again to help you finish or check your answers.


Special thanks to our #STEMMondays partners:

Follow BGCHarlem social media channels for daily updates. And students we would love to see your work!

Be sure to upload a picture of yourself with your completed lessons using the hashtag #BGCHarlem.  




View our additional 'Resources For Students & Parents for Dealing with COVID-19' HERE

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