Germs we live with
Click below to read a summary of the Germs we live with project ideas for Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards; or to go back to project ideas click here.
Find out how dirty your kitchen is
To start the project you should have a look round your kitchen to see if there is any dirt. Write down all your ‘observations’ (in other words, write down the different things you see). Think about ‘hidden’ dirt. In other words, bugs. You might want to read some books, or search the internet for information about bugs:
- Find out what sorts of bugs are found in the kitchen
- Find out what harm (and good) they can do
- Find out what makes them grow, what stops them from growing and what kills them.
Grow bacteria/fungi from your kitchen & test effectiveness of cleaning products
You should start with some research into microbes. Find out about the different sorts of germs: which ones are bad and which ones are good? Find out how to get rid of microbes, and the potential dangers of not getting rid of them. You should also do some research into techniques for culturing micro-organisms. You should familiarise yourself with terms such as ‘agar plate’, ‘culture’, ‘bacteria’, ‘fungus’ and ‘colony’. Practical biology books will help with this.
Identify microbes from the kitchen and test the effectiveness of cleaning products
You could try to link up with some mentors from the brewing industry, or the water industry (or any other industry that has quality control over samples for the presence of unwanted micro-organisms). Take swabs from different parts of the kitchen (you could also take swabs from dish cloths and tea towels). Use a technique of your choice to culture the micro-organisms from the swabs. When the micro-organisms have been incubated for 48 hours, make some observations about the different bacteria present. How many different types can you identify? Work out how to quantify your data. Find out how you could subculture from your swab to obtain a pure isolate. What tests could you carry out to try to identify your bacteria?