Our study of Microbiology has led to a couple experiments that are currently running in our incubator. When we were talking about viruses and bacteria, the kids expressed interest in growing some extremophile bacteria (bacteria that live in extreme conditions that would kill most living things), so I got some halobacteria for us to culture. Halobacteria are a salt-loving bacteria strain that lives in places like the Great Salt Lake. They’re cool for beginners to grow because their agar is so salty, nothing else will grow on it, so you can’t really contaminate it.
We’ve also been running another experiment. I asked the question: What part of the middle school harbors the most bacteria? We then poured some agar plates and students swabbed the part of the school that they thought would grow the most bacteria (themselves and the bathroom were ruled out). The last time we did this experiment (three years ago), it was a student’s lunch box that grew the most bacteria. Gross, huh? There are a couple reasons for doing this experiment. The first is so that the students can see that really any surface in the school will grow bacteria. Also, students get to learn sterile lab technique.
I’ll report back when we have an answer to the question!