The following three activities give students hands-on opportunities to visualize microorganism growth. Activities can be adapted for use with accompanying Space Agriculture in the Classroom lesson plans.
ACTIVITY # 1-MICROBES AND BREAD
Note: This activity can be substituted with the activity (under Procedure #1) in the Microorganisms is Space…and on Earth lesson plan.
4 Slices of bread
4 Ziploc bags
1. This activity can be done individually, in a group or whole class. If you choose to
do the activity individually or in small groups, you will need to purchase more
bread and Ziploc bags.
2. Try to purchase bread that does not have preservatives. Preservatives work as
growth inhibitors and slow down microorganism growth. For this activity, the
aim is for microorganisms to grow quickly. The activity will still work (but may
take longer) if the bread has preservatives.
1. Label the four Ziploc bags
a. Unwashed Hands (procedure #2)
b. Licked Bread (procedure #3)
c. Floor (procedure #4)
d. Washed Hands (procedure #5)
2. Wipe an unwashed hand all over both sides of the slice. Place it into Ziploc bag.
3. Lick a slice of bread on both sides with your tongue. Place it into Ziploc bag.
4. Wipe both sides of a piece of bread on the floor. Place into a Ziploc bag.
5. THOROUGHLY wash your hands with soap and warm water. Wipe both sides of
the bread with your hands. Place into a Ziploc bag.
6. Store the bread in a warm dark place.
7. Observe the bread for microbial growth every other day for 1-2 weeks.
Ask students to record the observations of the bread. At the end of two weeks review the findings and discuss why different breads have different amounts of microorganism growth.
ACTIVITY #2-THE MICROBE SPREAD
1 Pound of Flour
1. Prior to the activity, pour the pound of flour into a shallow container
2. This can be a messy activity for the classrooms. It could be done outside.
1. Put your hands into the flour. Ask students to pretend that the flour represents
microbes. Tell them that you just sneezed and so many of the microbes on your
hands are germs. Germs are infection causing microorganisms.
2. Touch several surfaces with your hands. Ask students what has happened to the
microbes [they are now on the surface.] If there are bacteria or viruses on their
hands where do they end up? [They end up on any surface the person touches.]
3. Have several students put their hands in the flour. Tell them to pretend they now
have germs all over their hands.
4. Ask those with flour on their hands to shake hands with other classmates. What
has happened to the germs? [The germs have spread.]
5. Ask all students who now have flour on their hands what would happen if they
stuck their fingers in their mouth. [They’d be putting germs in their mouth.]
6. Ask students what they could do to get rid of the flour “germs” on their hands and
other classroom surfaces. [Wash their hands, wash surfaces with an antibacterial
TMACTIVITY #3- FLUORESCENT MICROBES & GLO GERM
Glo Germ TM oil liquid or powder
Management TM1. Glo Germ materials can be ordered by calling 1-800-842-6622 or at
2. When teaching about microorganisms it is important to tell students that germs
are a type of infection and virus causing microorganism. TM3. Glo Germ helps students visualize “germs.” This activity illustrates the ease
with which germs are spread.
Procedure TM 1. Before class rub some Glo Germliquid or powder on your hands. Shake hands
with students as they enter the classroom.
TM will glow 2. Allow thirty minutes to pass and pull out the UV lamp. Glo Germ
when placed under ultraviolet light. Have students place their hands under the
light. Their hands will be glowing. TM 3. Show students the Glo Germbottle and explain to them how it represents germs. 4. Take the ultraviolet light around the room and check the tables and other areas to
see other places the “germs” have been spread. TM5. Discuss with students how quickly the Glo Germ spread. How does this
represent the spread of germs?
6. Ask students how they could have slowed the spread of the germs from their
hands to other surfaces. [washed their hands]
7. Allow students to thoroughly wash and dry their hands in the sink. 8. Have students look again at their hands under the ultraviolet light. Areas that
were not washed thoroughly will still glow under the light.