Fighting the Germs!
2011 VIRTUAL SCIENCE FAIR ENTRY
Why do we get sick? Everyone says it’s because of germs, but what really are germs? Well, there little microorganisms that cause illness. How do we stop them and other diseases from spreading though? I thought I would do a little bit of my own research to find out! This project looks at which method (copper, onion, or sanitizing wipes) helps prevent the spreading of germs and disease.
The methods were tested on pencil and laptop surfaces, acting as everyday surfaces that people touch. I would experiment each method on the two surfaces. I repeated the method three times, to get accurate data. These were measured for numbers of bacteria colonies in an agar dish. After I experimented, I would leave the dishes in a warm, dark, and humid area for the bacteria to grow. I would observe carefully and write down whatever I saw growing in the dishes. I also drew the results in my journal, while taking pictures of each process of my experiment. My hypothesis was for copper to work the best in decreasing the amount of germs.
The experimental results supported two methods, the sanitizing wipe, & copper, while onion made things worse. The sanitizing wipe had the effect of decreasing 9 bacteria colonies off the pencil, while it decreased 21 on the laptop. The copper did well, decreasing 7 bacteria colonies on the pencil, and for the laptop, decreasing 16. Maybe the new look of the future would be to have self-cleaning machines, and items that have copper material within them. I think if I were to continue with this project I would take the process of being a scientist, into the engineer, and try to build self cleaning machines, and copper materials that have less of an odor to it. Overall, this project has taught me about sanitation and how important it is to our daily lives. Stay germ free!
7th & 8th grade
Difficulty of the Project
$10-$15 Depending on what you may or may not already have in your household.
Time Take to Complete the Project
Depending on your schedule, it would probably take a month to complete.
- The project is about explaining the danger and the science of spreading of germs/disease and explains and/or demonstrate possible option(s) for protection and explain the science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics involved.
- The goal of this project is to find possible options for protection germs/ disease, and demonstrate it with accurate data, and explain a conclusion of a solution to the problem.
Materials and Equipment
- Cotton Swabs
- 20 agar dishes (you can make them at home, or talk to your teacher for some)
- 6 pencils
- 3 onions
- Sanitizing wipes
- Laptop or Computer (if you do not have one, you can substitute a doorknob)
- 3 copper sheets (you local hardware store should have some)
- 1 roll of copper wire (local hardware store)
- Incubator or a warm, dark, humid place (a bathroom would be fine)
- Latex gloves (grocery store)
We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Even touching a doorknob , and then exposing that to your mouth or eyes can spread your illness to the person who opens the door after you. Contact with these substances counts as 80% of all of infectious diseases. Germs are spread when we touch something that has been frequently touched by other people. Cold viruses and stomach flu can be transmitted by touching an object that someone has recently touched. Door handles, exercise equipment, counter tops are examples of inanimate objects on which germs exist.
How to stop spreading? Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
Terms and Concepts for Background Research
- What are bacteria?
- Stop the Spread of Germs
- Prevent the Spread of Germs
- Diseases Spread
- Measuring Bacteria
- How are diseases spread?
- What types of germs are there?
- Where are germs found?
- What’s commonly spread?
- What effect does the spreading cause?
- How do we stop the spreading of germs?
1. Number agar plate lids- so you know where the bacteria came from.
2. Set up materials
As I stated in my hypothesis, I believed that having copper on everyday surfaces would have the spreading of disease will decrease. The results show that the sanitizing wipe & the copper had similar outcomes. The sanitizing wipe decreased 9 bacteria colonies from the pencil, and 21 germs on the laptop, while the copper decreased 7 bacteria colonies on the pencil, and 16 on the laptop. This means that S.W. or Copper are both great method for preventing disease. As for the onion, it did so badly that it came to the point where it was adding bacteria to the surface. In one case, the result found that the onion added 3 more colonies than the control.
Overall, the sanitizing wipe & the copper did equally well. So maybe the new look of the future would be having self sanitizing laptops, self cleaning tabletops, having copper pencils, copper counters, copper knobs , and copper everything! But until then, sanitizing your hands and the surfaces you touch are the best way to prevent the spreading of germs and disease.
Questions for further Research
If I were to continue in my experiment, I would take the process of turning from a scientist, to the engineer. I would want to try to build self cleaning machines and copper materials that do not have the metal scent afterwards. If I could take my research and turn it to something the whole world can use, then we can make a dramatic difference in the amount of people who have disease or illness.
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.