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Which Cheese Grows Mold The Fastest?

based on 66 ratings
Author: Muriel Gerhard
Type

Biology

Grade

Middle School

Difficulty of Project

Easy

Cost

$ 15 - $20

Safety Issues

Wear safety goggles, rubber gloves and an apron or old shirt as a lab coat when handling mold. Use a dilute bleach solution for clean up.

Material Availability

Most of basic materials and equipment can be found in any kitchen. The cheeses can be purchased in the local super market or grocery store.  The mold, rhizopus, available in a Petri dish can be purchased from Ward`s Natural Science. Note: The Petri dish arrangement makes it easy to transport the fungus to the different cheeses.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

3 to 4 weeks.  This includes the experimentation and the collection, recording and analysis of data, summary of results and completion of bibliography.

Objectives

To determine which cheese grows mold fastest: Vermont Cheddar, American, Brie, or Camembert?

Materials and Equipment Required

  • samples of Vermont Cheddar, American, American, Brie and  Camembert
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • 8 Petri dishes
  • centimeter ruler
  • thermometer
  • Petri dish of  the rhizopus mold
  • sterile swabs
  • paper toweling or blotting paper
  • rubber gloves, apron or shirt as lab coatsanitizer such as dilute liquid bleach.

Introduction

Background Information

On the information level, this experiment serves to introduce students to the conditions under which molds grow, how they can be useful to us and how their growth can be controlled. In addition, the students learn how to conduct the experiment in a safe manner to prevent the effects of contamination. On the level of experimentation, this experience  serves to acquaint students with the essential components of sciencing such as the importance of clearly defining the problem to be investigated, stating their hypothesis and their rationale for the hypothesis, the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings.  They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.

Research Terms

  • mold
  • fungus
  • spores
  • natural cheese
  • processed cheese
  • aging of cheese

Research Questions

  • What are molds?
  • Where are molds found?
  • Under what kinds of conditions do molds grow?
  • How are molds useful to us?
  • What is cheese and how is it made?
  • What is the relationship between molds and the flavor of cheeses?
  • What is penicillin?
  • How are molds harmful to us?
  • What are fungi?
  • Are all fungi molds?

Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

  • What is a hypothesis?  A hypothesis is a prediction as to what the results or outcomes of the research will be.
  • What is a control?  A control is the variable that is not changed in the experiment.
  • What purpose does a control serve? It is used to make comparisons as to what changed or possibly caused the change.
  • What are variables?  Variables are factors that can be changed in an experiment.
  • What is an independent variable? The independent variable is the one that is changed in the experiment.
  • What is a dependent variable? The dependent variable is the one that changes as a result of the change in the independent variable.
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