Background Video

  • PK – grade 3 students  

There are three states of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. What happens when you heat popcorn in the microwave (bag inflates)? Have you ever wondered why that happens? Water contained in the corn kernels becomes hot and boils to form steam. When you open the bag of popcorn, you can see this steam released. Like a corn kernel, ivory soap contains water. The microwave oven makes the water get hot in the bar of soap and it boils to steam. Like the corn kernel, which expands to a fluffy solid (popcorn!), the Ivory soap piece expands to form a Soap Monster.

  •  Grade 4 – 6 students

Students in these age groups know differences in the chemical and physical properties of solid, liquid and gases. When the Ivory soap goes in the microwave, water in the piece of soap absorbs energy from the microwave oven and the molecules start to move more quickly and forms gaseous water. The higher temper also causes air in the soap to move faster. The air molecules in the piece of soap to move more quickly, which will allow gas expands in volume. The formation of steam and the expansion of gas in the soap cause the piece of soap to expand in size until it’s 10 times more than its originals size. When the microwave is finishing the soap, which is a solid, the soap will stay large in volume but will become a fluffy substance.

  • Middle School Students

Students at this age know about the periodic table and know that atoms combine to form molecules. They know that matter is solid liquid or gas depending upon how quickly the molecules are moving. They know that atoms in a solid can’t move very much they because they are essentially locked in place. Atoms in a liquid are free to move and can collide with one another. Atoms in gasses move freely with frequent collision. Soaps are organic molecules that have a grease tail and a polar head. They exist as solid but when heated can turn into a liquid state. Ivory soap contains a lot of water (noticed that the package is damped, and add a lot of air bubbles into the soap). When we put the piece of soap in the microwave the water molecules absorbed the microwave energy and converted to liquid water to gaseous water (steam). The hot steam expands to a very large volume and the air bubbles also expand to a large volume due to high temperature. The molecules in the gas are moving very quickly acquiring a larger volume. The expanding gas caused the melting soap to expand in size as a frosted solid and when it cools it causes a fluffy soap to expand and becomes very light, powdery solid. College-level/ scientific description

  • College Students

Microwaves cause water molecules to rotate very quickly. The rotation molecules cause vibrations and releases energy causing the water to become hot. Heat is sufficient to boil water. We know that Charles law says that volume of a gas will increased when the temperature increases going to increase temperature increases. The formula is V=constant times T, where T is the temperature in Kelvin. As the results of the heating the gas particles occupied a larger volume and the piece of soap expands to a 10 times larger volume. As the results of the temperature increasing, the soap can also melt to solid to liquid. This experiment works best with ivory soap because of the large amount of water and the air bubbles embedded in the soap. The present of air bubbles can expand when gaseous water forms, when heating an ivory soap in the microwave allowing it to become 10 times bigger, this experiment is the soap monster.