Science project

What Music Does Bacteria Enjoy the Most?

Research Questions:

  • Does music alter the growth of bacteria?
  • Do different kinds of music make the bacteria grow differently?

Although bacteria lack the ability to hear, they are very perceptive to changes in vibration. Physically speaking, music is essentially various changes in vibration. This experiment might help figure out better ways to process sewage and other essential microbe-assisted duties.


  • 2 or more prepared Petri dishes with agar (available from biological supply companies)
  • Sterilized swabs
  • Rubber or plastic gloves
  • 2 or more portable CD or MP3 players
  • Several pairs of cheap headphones, NOT earbuds (same number as music players) You will want to throw them away after the experiment.
  • Several songs or albums of various music, the more diverse the better (such as classical, hard rock, and dance)
  • Camera
  • Notepad and paper
  • Ruler

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Wearing gloves, prepare the Petri dishes. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, take them out of the refrigerator for about an hour before conducting the experiment.
  2. Using the sterilized swabs, collect bacterial samples while wearing gloves. Good places to nab some bacteria include faucets or any other area that is touched by a lot of people. Ensure that you swab from the same area to get roughly the same amount and type of bacteria. Swipe the swab against the agar in the Petri dish and then close and seal the dish. Label each sample.
  3. Place the samples in a warm, out of the way place. Leave one sample alone, this is the control.
  4. For the other samples, place the headphones snugly around the dish.
  5. Connect the headphones to the music players. Play a different song or album on repeat on each player.
  6. Let the samples grow for a week. Make sure to keep the music players charged and playing at all times. Take pictures of the developing bacteria everyday.
  7. Take off the headphones and compare each sample. Take note of the amount of colonies in each sample and measure the size of each colony.
  8. Carefully dispose of the Petri dishes.
  9. Analyze this data. Did the music have an affect on the size or amount of bacteria colonies? Did a certain genre of music have a greater affect than others?

Terms/Concepts: microbiology, bacteria, microbes, vibrations, sewage treatment 

References: Sewage treatment plant in Germany that uses Mozart to speed up bacteria

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