Viral video (using pepper!) shows importance of hand-washing amid coronavirus outbreak

Francesca Gariano

What's the best way to teach kids about good hygiene? A science experiment, of course!

Amanda Lorenzo, a pre-kindergarten teacher in the Miami-Dade County Public School district, found the best way to teach her students a valuable lesson on hand-washing, especially during the current coronavirus outbreak.

The first-year teacher shared an experiment on her Instagram page involving some water, pepper and a little bit of soap.

In the video, Lorenzo instructs one of her students to dip her finger into the "virus," which is just a little bit of black pepper in water. When the pepper doesn't move, she has her student look at her finger to check if there is any pepper on it.

Lorenzo instructs her student to then dip her finger in soap before placing her finger back into the water. When the student puts her soapy finger into the water, the pepper spreads out to the opposite side of the dish and her finger has no "virus" on it.

In just three days, the video has garnered over 133,000 views on Instagram. Lorenzo told TODAY that she didn't expect this kind of reaction from one video inspired by a TikTok she saw a few weeks back.

“I use TikTok. Obviously I do it for fun but I always search up teacher ideas, teacher crafts, things to do in your classroom because a lot of teachers are on TikTok," she explained. ""It was a week ago or two weeks ago, I had put teacher ideas, maybe I searched something with the virus just to continue with the topic of germs and being sure to wash your hands.”

She continued, adding, "I stumbled upon that video and saw that it was super simple. It was just pepper, water and soap. I have water and soap in my classroom so I just brought pepper from home and I did it the next day. They freaked out!”

Amanda Lorenzo

The 23-year-old teacher from Miami loves doing hands-on activities with her students so the information she teaches them sticks and this lesson on the importance of hand-washing was no different.

“I was really just doing this to show the importance of washing your hands, whether this happens with the coronavirus," she said. "The rest of the day — after everything obviously, after going to the bathroom, after we came back from lunch, before going to lunch, after going to the playground — they were like, ‘We need to wash our hands!’ It was a constant thing for the rest of the day.”

Lorenzo sent the video to the parents of her students as well and is happy to report that her students have been washing their hands nonstop at home too.

Amanda Lorenzo

"It stuck with them," she explained. "It’s something fun that they saw and especially as visual learners, they just see it and are like, 'Wow, a visual representation of what really happens to germs when you wash your hands.'”

Her students were shocked by the experiment so she decided to share that specific lesson on her Instagram page, which is dedicated to teaching activities so that her colleagues and friends can see and use it as a form of inspiration. She didn't expect for the video to go viral but is thankful for the great attention it has received.

“Thank you to all of the teachers,” Lorenzo said. “Teachers, like any other profession, as long as you’re working hard and doing good for the world, it’s so important to use your platform for good. So I just want to say thank you to all of the teachers, everyone that’s working hard to make the world a better place.”

Hand-washing is important for everyday life, but even more so now. Experts recommend washing your hands for 20 to 30 seconds to thoroughly clean off any bacteria. To dry your hands, use a paper towel or hand dryer and make sure they're completely dry, as wet hands and skin can allow germs to flourish.

Using warm water helps the soap disperse better and it's important to focus on your fingertips when you're washing your hands. Intertwine your fingers to get in between each and make sure you don't miss out on your thumbs!