by Zoe F., age 14
Mark Twain once retorted, “Soap and education are not as sudden as massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.” Soap is not just used for cleaning but can be a teacher for the willing student. Overlooked and misjudged, we often view dish soap as simply the thing we use to wash millions of dishes. Additionally, what pops into my head like fresh kernels of popcorn in the microwave is the Dawn commercial, where a multitude of struggling animals are cleaned off from a devastating oil spill. As I have learned, this inexpensive dish soap can also be used to create a cheap slip-n-slide used for a summer memory. Surprisingly, this syrup-like liquid can be transformed into an ice pack that is used as an expression of how much my mom cares for me. In addition, I recall feeling proud after I solved a mystery with this household object. Capturing my attention, Dawn dish soap became a teacher to me and reminded me to never underestimate the power of educating myself.
Knowing we needed an inexpensive adventure, my dad graciously constructed a slip-n-slide. Disappearing into the barn, my dad emerged with a lengthy, clear piece of landscaping plastic. My best friend, Alessa, and I excitedly watched as the huge piece of plastic perfectly rolled down the hill in our front yard. What was he doing? Into the house he rushed to obtain the transparent, blue substance. Quickly he raced out the door and frantically poured the substance, which was Dawn dish soap, onto the shiny plastic. Next, he grabbed the hose and sprayed cold water. As he was spraying the water, Alessa and I rapidly and recklessly ran to the starting point. Foam quickly built up around and on us as we smoothly slid down the long bed of Dawn. On that hot summer day, I learned a lesson about how fun can be found without spending a lot of money. The memorable and inexpensive slip-n-slide was the best way we could have spent our summer day.
One of the first times I solved a problem using science, I felt proud. Wondering about the dying grass, my dad and I set out to find what was wrong by searching the Internet for possible explanations. By the end of searching, my dad assumed the culprit was a colony of army worms, which would completely kill our luscious sod. We needed to find out. When we finally found a solution on a landscape website, we concocted the anti-army-worm serum. Meticulously we combined the bubbly Dawn soap with lukewarm tap water, hoping this mixture would draw out the grass murderers. Next, we soaked a section of sod with the serum while we crossed our fingers this would do its job. Patiently we waited for over six time-consuming hours. Sure enough, the mixture suffocated the army worms, and they rose like the sun timidly peeking over the horizon to the top of our now dying grass. We had an answer to our problem. What did I learn? Proudly I realized I solved the mysterious dilemma with science.
Who knew that an ice pack could be a lovely reminder of how much my mother cares for me? One late night after a hard-core day at dance, my lower back started to spasm, causing me intense pain. Searching for an ice pack, my mom realized there were none in our freezer. Suddenly, my mom remembered an old recipe from her mother. She delicately added the blue liquid into a ziplock bag and froze it in our freezer. According to my grandmother, Dawn dish soap can be frozen, which would make an ice pack. What a loving mom! While my gracious mom kindly made the ice pack, I prepared for bed. Finally, I placed the frozen bag on my aching back as I sank into our red velvet couch. The cooling effect of the ice pack instantly helped calm the spasms. Now every time I see Dawn dish soap, I am reminded of the simple lesson the ice pack taught me about how much my mom loves me.
It comforts people. It creates memories. It solves problems. Even though it has always been around my house, I did not know it could be used for so many other things until I experienced them. Having the exciting memory in my mind of the inexpensive slip-n-slide always sparks a reminder of a summer afternoon engulfed in childhood laughter. As a reminder to think outside the box, the famous dish soap was one of the ingredients to my first solved mystery that brought so much pride. Glimpsing the bottle, I am reminded how I felt so much love from my mother as she made a homemade ice pack. The most significant attribute of this household item is its ability to teach me, and knowledge is a powerful weapon. We can change the world with knowledge obtained through education, whether in a classroom or learning about new uses of a beloved product. Xunzi, a Confucian philosopher, once stated, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Indeed, I was a willing student. I will never be able to look at dish soap again without thinking of soap suds and frozen love.