Budget Hacks For The Most Effective Lesson On How Germs Spread


     I'm always looking for elementary science activities that are:
  • easy
  • affordable
  • engaging
  • hands-on
  • pretty much student-led
  • something we can use in real life
     One of the best is to buy that glow-in-the-dark stuff, Glo Germ. You paint it on kids' hands, have them wash, then look at their hands under a black light. They quickly see how hard it can be to get their hands clean. When you connect the Glo Germ to real germs, it makes a lasting impression on them.

     We did this in my science classes until the cost stopped me. I wish I'd known then about these budget hacks. It would have allowed us to benefit from the activity without the budget.  
       

The Experiment

     First, use a cotton swab to spread some of the Glo Germ on each child's hand. Use a clean swab for each child so you're not dipping contaminated swabs back into the bottle.
 


     Next, let kids see their hands under the black light. If you're doing a written piece, have kids record their observations.
     Have kids wash their hands. Don't emphasize washing really well yet. 

     Look at their hands under the black light again. They'll gasp at how much glow is still left! 

     Make the point that the Glo Germ is behaving like germs, not making us sick, but staying on our skin. Send them back to wash their hands and check under the black light again. 

The Extensions

     1. You might want to extend the lesson with hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Do they clean our hands any better or worse?

     2. An even more impactful extension of this experiment is to see how far one person can pass germs.  Start by swabbing one student's hand with Glo Germ. He's student #1. Have student #1 touch student #2. Student #2 touches student #3 and so on. Each child checks their hand under the black light. We were 10 kids in before we had trouble finding the glow!

     Emphasize that germs are passed from person to person in the same way.

The Budget Hacks

     What to do if you have no budget for Glo Germ and a black light? We can still make it happen! 

     You need 2 things: a germ substitute substance and a way to see it on kids' hands.  Consider these pairings:

     We ended by reviewing some ways we've learned to wash hands properly. One suggestion is scrubbing for the length of time it takes to silently sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself. We also had a frank discussion of places we pick up germs: the bathroom, doorknobs, other peoples' possessions. It was a  real learning experience all around!

     I'd love to know how these hacks work for you! Enjoy your science and stay healthy!



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[name=Pat McFadyen] [img=https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WsQ2WGbGKhw/WpNrBnYYvfI/AAAAAAAATcs/Gbqf3hYwwjwX2smDpvLCmtgfWB3ur47mACLcBGAs/s1600/Pat.jpg] [description=My purpose is to support YOU and your students with practical solutions and curriculum materials that teach, play, practice, and assess.] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/GrowingIn5thGrade/)

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