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Lesson Plans
Scrubbing Bubbles: Tremendous Triglycerides

Robert Redmon
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
Two 44-minute class periods


In this lesson students will examine the structure of tryglycerides – commonly known as fat molecules – and how when they are mixed with a base, sodium is produced that makes water more powerful. Soaps and detergents are made up of molecules that have a non-polar hydrocarbon on one end and an ionic charge on the other. This dual combination is the key ingredient to the cleaning action of soap. Dirt contains oils, greases, and other non-polar compounds. Since water is extremely polar, water alone will not dissolve or clean most dirt.

In this lesson, students will use the Internet to select various shampoos and examine and evaluate which shampoo they think would be best for them based solely on the information found at each brand's Web site. After viewing various video segments which cover the topic of tryglycerides and their ability to assist in removing dirt, the students will interact with a series of hands-on labs that will allow them to scrutinize the cleansing powers of a variety of soaps. Each group will be able to determine the following characteristics of the various shampoos selected from the Internet: the pH of each soap, the percentage of solids within each soap, the flash formation of each soap, the foam retention of each
soap, the relative viscosity of each soap, the dispersion of contaminants of each soap, and the cost of each soap per 5ml. All of the information acquired in the testing phase of this lesson will allow students to make an informed scientific decision as to which brand of soap is truly best for them to use on a daily basis, as well as its ability to wash away dirt.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:

  • Identify and diagram a fat molecule, a soap molecule, and a detergent molecule
  • Verbally describe the chemical reaction and formation of soap from a base and a fatty acid
  • Recognize and analyze the ingredients on the side of a shampoo bottle and a box of soap
  • Collect, tabulate, and analyze experimental data to categorize the cleansing ability of a variety of shampoos and their cost-effectiveness for consumers


National Science Standards

As a result of this lesson all students should develop an understanding of:

Standard A: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Understandings about scientific inquiry

Standard B: Chemical Reactions
Structure of atoms

Structure and properties of matterNew York State Math, Science, and Technology Standards

Standard 1: Mathematics, Science & Technology
Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

Standard 2: Information Systems
Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

Standard 3: Mathematics
Students will understand mathematics and become mathematically confident by communicating and reasoning mathematically, by applying mathematics in real-world settings, and by solving problems through the integrated study of number systems, geometry, algebra, data analysis, probability, and trigonometry.

Standard 4: Science
Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

Media Components


Organic Chemistry # 8: "Soaps"

Web Sites:


This Web site is a commercially produced Web site designed by Proctor and Gamble to inform consumers about the various types of Pert Shampoos and how each type of shampoo is designed not
only to cleanse their hair but also to treat their specific hair problems.

Head & Shoulders

The #1 selling dandruff shampoo is now better than ever. For more than 35 years, Head & Shoulders(r) has helped provide legendary dandruff protection and great-looking hair.


Neutrogena Corporation, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, began its success story when, in 1930, founder Emanuel Stolaroff started a small specialty cosmetic company called Natone. In the early years, Natone was a supplier to beauty salons usually associated with the glamour of the film industry. By the 1940's, Natone began manufacturing and distributing cosmetics for the retail market.

Street Cents shampoo.html#link8

Street Cents is a television show and Web site dedicated and directed towards the youth of today. The Web site deals with product questions that are posed by students. The staff at Street Cents investigates the questions and produces both a series segment and a Web page to answer the students' questions. The Web pages are in-depth, and provide comprehensive answers for the questions posed.


Per group of four students: Introductory Activity

  • Whole milk
  • 4 different colors of food coloring
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • 1 petri dish
  • 1 toothpick
For teacher: Learning Activities
  • 1 beaker
  • Some oil and water to mix for demonstration
  • 1 copy of Worksheet #1, "Detergents, Soaps and Fats: The Love Triangle" (see attached)
  • 1 assorted package of permanent magic markers.
  • 1 sheet of acetate
Per group of four students: Culminating Activity
  • 1 dropper vial with universal indicator
  • 5 test tubes filled with different brands of shampoos
  • 1 vial of India Ink
  • 1 hotplate
  • 1 250ml graduated cylinder and stopper
  • 1 alarm clock with a second hand
  • Graph paper
Per Student: Culminating Activity
  • Pencil
  • Worksheet #1, Detergents, Soaps and Fats: The Love Triangle (see attached)
  • Worksheet #2, Super Shampoo Scrubbing Bubbles Analysis