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Cooking Up Science with Miss America: "Breaking Down Some Foamy Fun!"

Camille Schrier making foamy blob

Home Learning | Cooking Up Science with Miss America

Episode 6 – The foamy fun of "Elephant's Toothpaste," also known as the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, helped Camille Schrier win her job as Miss America 2020! In this episode, Camille re-creates this winning chemical reaction and teaches us all about the science of catalysts and decomposition. Explore questions such as: What is a catalyst? What does a catalyst do? Why do we need a catalyst to make "Elephant's Toothpaste"? It’s a HUGE, wonderful, foamy mess that's all powered by science! Developed for students in grades 6 - 10.

Produced by Camille Schrier, Miss America 2020, in partnership with VPM.

NOTE: The Elephant's Toothpaste chemical reaction demonstration requires adult supervision.


  • Catalyst: Chemical Catalyst and Biological Catalyst 
  • Protein
  • Enzyme
  • Decomposition

More resources:
Scholastic At Home Science Experiments: Elephant's Toothpaste
Camille Schrier, Miss Virginia, demonstrating Elephant's Toothpaste
New York Times.Com, Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier Science

Virginia Standards of Learning (2018):

BIO.2  The student will investigate and understand that chemical and biochemical processes are essential for life.  Key ideas include:
water chemistry has an influence on life processes;
c) enzymes have a role in biochemical processes;

PS.3 The student will investigate and understand that matter has properties and is conserved in chemical and physical processes. Key ideas include:
a) pure substances can be identified based on their chemical and physical properties;
b) pure substances can undergo physical and chemical changes that may result in a change of properties

CH.3 The student will investigate and understand that atoms are conserved in chemical reactions.  Knowledge of chemical properties of the elements can be used to describe and predict chemical interactions. Key ideas include:
a)  chemical formulas are models used to represent the number of each type of atom in a substance;
b) substances are named based on the number of atoms and the type of interactions between atoms;
c)  balanced chemical equations model rearrangement of atoms in chemical reactions;
f)  reaction types can be predicted and classified.

6.5 The student will investigate and understand that all matter is composed of atoms. Key ideas include:
c) elements may be represented by chemical symbols;
d) two or more atoms interact to form new substances, which are held together by electrical forces (bonds);
e) compounds may be represented by chemical formulas;
f) chemical equations can be used to model chemical changes

CH.7 The student will investigate and understand that thermodynamics explains the relationship between matter and energy. Key ideas include:
a) heat energy affects matter and interactions of matter;
d) energy changes in reactions occur as bonds are broken and formed;
f) rates of reactions depend on catalysts and activation energy

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