Ew Gross! Finding Germs in Your Kitchen

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Updated on Sep 07, 2012

Grade Level: Elementary; Type: Health Science, Microbiology

Kids will learn the importance of washing their hands as many tend to neglect the fact that it is needed!

Research Questions:

  • What types of bacteria are there?
  • How does bacteria grow?
  • What is the composition of a bacteria?
  • How does bacteria transfer?
  • What can be done to prevent bacterial illnesses and contamination?

  • Potatoes
  • Veggie Peeler/ Knife
  • Plastic baggies with labels
  • Gloves (sterile)
  • A widely-used surface
  • A dark room
  • Pen/paper
  • Optional: 2-3 other people

  1. Peel and slice potatoes with gloves on.It is best if they are cut into similarly sized portions.
  2. Five pieces is ideal. (Only an adult should do this.)
  3. Prepare a control by placing a slice of potato in a plastic baggie. Label it “control” and set that aside. Gloves should be kept on until step 5.
  4. With one slice of potato, cough and blow on it for 1 minute. Place that slice in a plastic baggie, label it “mouth/oral contact” and set it aside.
  5. With the third slice of the potato, rub it for 1 minute on a surface that is regularly used by people, like a table or a counter. Place in bag and label that “surface contact” and set it aside.
  6. Take off gloves. With the fourth slice of potato, simply rub the potato with your hands, fingers, and between your palms. Place in bag and label that “Single human contact” and set it aside.
  7. It is recommended that you do the optional portion of this experiment. To do this, take the last potato slice and rub it like you did in step 5. Pass the potato slice along to your helpers and have them do the same thing. After this is done, put it in a plastic baggie and label it “Multiple human contact.”
  8. After all those steps have been completed, take all your bagged potato slices to a dark room.
  9. Leave them there for 5-7 days. Monitor day-by-day progress and record in the charts below.
  10. After allowing them to sit in the dark room for 5-7 days, observe them and record results.
Chart
CONTROL
Day #
Any changes?
Notes
1
2
3
4
5
[6]
[7]

MOUTH/ORAL CONTACT

Day #
Any changes?
Notes
1
2
3
4
5
[6]
[7]

SURFACE CONTACT

Day #
Any changes?
Notes
1
2
3
4
5
[6]
[7]
SINGLE HUMAN CONTACT
Day #
Any changes?
Notes
1
2
3
4
5
[6]
[7]
MULTIPLE HUMAN CONTACT
Day #
Any changes?
Notes
1
2
3
4
5
[6]
[7]

Terms, Concepts: Bacterial growth, asexual reproduction, binary fission, exponential growth, bacterial phases, prokaryotes

References:

Sofia PC is currently a college student with a deep interest in science who is aspiring to become a writer. She writes about all sorts of things across all subjects including, but not limited to; science, crafts, and fashion. She hopes to become a good writer so she can share her thoughts and experiences with the world and future generations.

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