Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Soap That Floats!

Since I am a 3rd grade teacher I am always trying to find new ways to 9 year olds excited about school. Lately my own personal interest has been in science. So in 3P we have started to do some hands on experiments. We have gotten wet, poked holes in water bags, built a scale to measure invisible gas and worked with the "Soap That Floats". Ivory.
Maybe you are familiar with this slogan, or maybe it has totally gone unnoticed. There is a bar of soap that claims to float. Not that impressive if you ask me. Who cares if a bar of soap floats? I don't know that it makes any difference to most. However, to a 9 year old, and especially to my 4 year old it is the coolest thing in the world.
The story goes something like this, but there are differing views on how it came to be. Here is the one I use to help the kids. When Ivory soap was being created in the late 1800's it was just your ordinary, run of the mill white soap. Then there was an accident. While mixing the soap ingredients, the mixer was left on while the workers went to lunch. Upon their return they found that the soap had become frothy and bubbly from being over mixed. Well, since the mixture going in was still the same they sent it off to be processed into bars of soap, not knowing that they would float. A month later people wanted more of the magic soap and so goes the story of Ivory Soap.
Whether you believe that the soap floats because it has extra air bubbles in it or not is up to you. I am not going to argue it with a class of kids that just want to know more about it. So we went exploring.
The soap does float. Yippeee. Glorious. Amazing. Floating is cool. Well, probably not that cool to kids that are used to XBOX, PS3 and Hannah Montana.
What else can this Magic Bar of White do?
Can we eat it? I wouldn't, it tastes bad.
Can it be squished? Not really, it breaks into pieces.
Well, what about the bubbles? If they put them in, how do we get them out?
Duh!!! A Microwave. Throw it in the microwave and see what happens.
So I brought in the microwave from the teachers lounge, sorry if your food tastes funny now, and we began to heat up the soap. Incredible. The bubbles couldn't get out any faster and look any cooler doing it. The kids will tell you that the bubbles get to going crazy when they are heated up and need to get out. The final product, as long as you don't roast it, is similar to the snakes that we light on July Fourth. The soap grows and expands in all directions and comes out looking like a tasty treat. I am sure some of them even tried it to just to double check.
To watch this miracle of science was totally shocking to the eyes of a 9 year old and even more so to an unsuspecting 4 year old.
Is this a miracle? Not to me it is not. I have seen things happen that far more unbelievable.
A miracle is an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment. I would say this is true to the 21 sets of eyes that witnessed this. Miracles like this probably don't change lives or make us better people, and then again maybe they do.
Maybe this Miracle Soap will light a fire in a little mind and make them question, think and explore. Maybe the miracle is not the soap working its funky change. It might just be the Soap making a little boy or girl excited to learn and experience life.
Give the "Soap That Floats" a chance. Do it with a kid and see the miracle of science and life happen right before you eyes.
I promise you won't be disappointed.


  1. Thinking of you as you face the anniversary of losing your Dad from this earth. I remember the day too as I stopped by the see your Mom and left her a painting I had done for her for Valentine's Day. She was not home....little did I know you were searching for him. My loss is a little more fresh with Mom being gone 4 years, but every Feb. 3, I get a little (or a lot) weepy. I am sure I will do that when it gets to be 21 years for us too. Hugs and understanding, Carol

  2. When you talk about Soap that Floats, I can't stop thinking about the fact that "Hope Floats."

    Jon, you are a blessed person and teacher. Praising God, right now, that he has placed you in a classroom with these kids. Wish we could steal you away (even though I love our teachers here at WL) but you really are AWESOME.

  3. This is awesome!!! I used to be a teacher. We made clouds using shaving cream mixed with glue. When it dries, it feels like fleece!!! I will have to try this soap in the microwave. It sounds very cool!!