Chemistry: "Disease Spreading" Lesson Instructions

Channel avatar Rock-it Science

Rock-it Science

We have set up a chemistry lesson that pertains to the current situation with coronavirus, aptly titled “Disease Spreading”. The materials needed are available at the grocery store and they are detailed in the video. Feel free to watch the video first and make a shopping list, or… if you are like me, try to do the experiment with whatever you have at home at the time. The most important piece of the experiment is a person who will not reveal the secret regarding who had the disease first, no matter how hard you try to get it out of them!

The other important part is a number of pieces of paper towel soaked in a color-changing chemical. We happened to choose turmeric, but you could also use the juice from red cabbage or the blood of a vampire caught exactly at midnight while dancing under the full moon… you decide.

In China they are trying to find the first person to come down with the disease so you need to try that for yourself. All the details are in the video.

Our wonderful and delightful volunteer, Rhonda Ressel, volunteered her husband’s company to help bring these science lessons to you at no charge (along with some slave labor from her son)! Estelle Gow gathered all the video pieces together and made them into a coherent program. Mary Lyn Azar had the foresight to get us moving in this direction just in time. Winnie Poon and Tiffany Irving have taken the time to find ways to complete the session without making contact with the students. Now that we have done the difficult with very little, we are poised to do the impossible with nothing!

This whole thing was set up in a very short time and we are open to suggestions on how to get you to volunteer to help us make it better!

We look forward to hearing from all of you and seeing you back at Rock-It Science soon!


Mister Mac

How to Use This Lesson:

These videos are from a complete class and were filmed about 10 years ago (with the exception of the intro). The following is a suggested way to use these videos. You know your kids best, older kids and sibling groups may be able to work through the entire project independently since it follows the usual rhythm of our weekly classes. (See below for a list of materials to gather before beginning the lesson.)

• Student watches “Part 1 Intro,” then  “Part 2 Story.”

• This is the point where your child typically gives their first input in class. Ask “If you were Jack and Jill, what would you do?” Any answer is acceptable, this is about getting your child engaged and excited for the experiment.

• Student watches ”Part 3 Experiment Instructions.” NOTE: There’s a place in the lesson where the parents need to do something without the kids knowing what they did. Watch for it in the instructions.

• Student does the Experiment.

At this point give your child the materials and encourage them to experiment. If you have a group of siblings who can work together or side by side that’s great. Parents can join the fun too, but let your child take the lead in coming up with the ideas.When they have had a chance to come up with their best solution, you can show them the video “Part 5 Inspiration” where the kids from ten years ago are doing the experiment. We encourage the kids to see what other kids do and use that inspiration to add to their own ideas. After they watch this second experiment video, encourage them to go back and try out any new ideas they have based on what they saw.

• When they are done, the students should watch the “Part 6 End of Story” video.


• Cups - 18 Small plastic or paper cups.

• Paper Towel - One sheet

• Baking Soda - A teaspoon or two

• Turmeric – A teaspoon or two

• Rubbing alcohol – About 2 ounces

• Hair Dryer

• Sticky Notes – Small ones, if possible. Medium is okay, too.

• Scissors

• Permanent Markers – To write on the cups and sticky notes

Once you have the above materials gathered, you are ready for the lesson.

The link below will take you directly to the lesson video. XOTV is privacy focused and does not share any personal information with anyone. Email addresses are stored but never shared or used for spam / advertising.

Disease Spreading Lesson

Please note, if you want to leave a comment on a video, you will need to sign-up for a free account. The only requested items are an email and password. Again, email is not used for any purpose other than to establish an account.

Share what you did!

Send a picture to and we’ll add it to a blog post on the XOTV site that’s linked to the videos. You can find it here Disease Spreading Photos. Let us know if you have a comment to use as a caption and if you want your name(s) included.

If you have any questions you can send them to and it will be forwarded on to whoever is best able to answer. We will reply to all comments and e-mails with words of encouragement for your kids.

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