The Elephant's Toothpaste
Time 3 hrs

Difficulty Beginner
Prerequisites Thinking Like A Scientist
Departments Science
Authors Flora Lai
Groupings Pairs
Minimum Year Group None


Have you heard of the Elephant's toothpaste experiment? Do you know why you see what you see? You will get to do this experiment yourselves and also look at the Science behind this.


What is needed to run this unit?
  • ...
Cross-Curricular Links
Do not try and force this. What areas of other subjects might this reflect and/discuss language. For IB, links with ToK.
  • ...
Teacher Reflection
What was successful? What needs changing? Alternative Assessments and Lesson Ideas? What other Differentiation Ideas/Plans could be used?
  • ...
Any CC attribution, thanks, credit, etc.

This page requires you to be logged in to access it. Please login and try again.
15 mins
What is the elephant toothpaste?

Task 1:

  1. Work in pairs for the entire unit please.
  2. Create a google doc and name it "The Elephant Toothpaste", you will be using this throughout the unit.
  3. Watch the first minute of the video below to get you started on looking at what the elephant toothpaste experiment is. Make some notes on your google doc.

The video:

Task 2:

Answer the following questions using the video and also this link:

  1. What materials are needed for the elephant toothpaste experiment?
  2. Why do you think there was foam produced? (Hint: what reaction is going on?)
  3. Bonus question (Have a go but don't worry if you don't know how to do this): Write a chemical symbol equation for the reaction involved.

45 mins
Planning for your own experiment

On the same document but on a fresh page, plan (you should know how to do this from the Thinking Like a Scientist Unit) an experiment that would allow you to investigate ONE OF THE FOLLOWING.

  • Try making the elephant toothpaste in different sized bottles or in containers with different shaped openings to determine how these affect the stream of foam.
  • Try using different quantities of the mixtures to determine how it affects the amount of foam produced.

Here is a reminder of what needs to go in a plan:

  • Research Question - A question you want to find an answer for through your experiment
  • The variables - you can find out what these are here.
  • Prediction/Hypothesis - try and make a guess as to what you think will happen, with reasons.
  • Materials list - a list of materials that you need for the experiment.
  • Method - a step-by-step guide to how the experiment will be done.

When you are ready. Email your plans to Ms Lai at and get your plan approved. Also ask her if the department have your materials.

Doing the experiment

Get all your materials ready and do your experiment! You may want to do it more than once to ensure that your results are reliable.

When you are doing the experiments, take some photos and put them under "Observations and Results" on your google doc. Do write that any observations you make throughout the experiment too.

120 mins
Writing up your results

Task 1:

  • Do you think your results can be presented in a more meaningful way? Such as by drawing a graph? Here is a link to the different types of graphs you may want to draw. You can also speak to your Science teacher about this.
  • If you think you can draw a graph, decide on a graph type with your partner and draw it by hand.
  • Take a picture of it and put it into your google doc, after your "Observations and Results" section.
  • Give this section a subtitle of "Graphs".

Task 2:

Under another subtitle of Analysis and Conclusions, write a paragraph or 2 on the following:

  • Can you see any trends or patterns on your graph?
  • Why do you think there is or isn't a trend or pattern. Try and think of some Scientific reasoning for these.
  • Did these match with your prediction?
  • Can you write a one-sentence conclusion at the end of this seciton? E.g. "In conclusion, The elephant toothpaste produced more foam when...."

Task 3:

  • Under a final sub-heading of Evaluation, write a paragraph on the following:
    • What went well in your experiment?
    • What improvements could you have if you were to do it again? Why?
    • How do you think the results from your experiments could be useful in our daily lives?
    • Can you think of another further experiment you could do?



There are no records to display.
Powered by Gibbon v27.0.00dev

Founded by Ross Parker at ICHK Secondary | Built by Ross Parker, Sandra Kuipers and the Gibbon community
Copyright © Gibbon Foundation 2010-2024 | Gibbon™ of Gibbon Education Ltd. (Hong Kong)
Created under the GNU GPL | Credits | Translators | Support