Beets and Bacteria
Date: Fall 2011
I found an experiment at the pbs.org/teachers website that evaluates different handwashing techniques by swabbing palms, nails, and in between fingers after different types of handwashing. These swabs are then "plated" on canned beets placed inside of a petri dish. Does this sound like a realistic and safe experiment for middle school students?
NEWTON BBS does not recommend growing/culturing bacteria without the supervision of a microbiologist, and a properly equipped microbiology laboratory. Safety is our main concern! Growing dangerous bacteria species unknowingly is a real possibility and serious illness may occur without proper handling techniques. Furthermore, without proper bacterial disposal procedures such as an autoclave can guarantee, there is a danger to anyone who comes in contact after disposal.
I will have to agree with the NEWTON BBS reply. Bacteria need to be
put in bio-hazard waste containers for proper disposal. If you happen to be
dealing with bacilli, which are common soil bacteria, the autoclave might
not be enough to kill Endospores.
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Update: June 2012