Teacher's moldy bread experiment shows importance of washing hands

Two teachers have given their students living proof of the importance of hand washing. The Idaho Falls, Idaho, teachers wrote about their gross experiment earlier this month in a now-viral Facebook post. The investigation, which began in mid-November in their special education class for kindergarten through sixth-grade students, involved five slices of white bread, one of which was left untouched and immediately zipped into a plastic bag: the control slice. The other four were handled by all 17 students plus both instructors, but in various states of cleanliness.

… A second slice of bread was passed around after students had just eaten lunch and came in from recess. A third slice of bread was passed around after the germy kids were given hand sanitizer after a few hours. A fourth slice of bread was passed around after everyone first washed their hands with soap and water. The last slice was wiped across the keyboards of their classroom Chromebooks.

… Each slice was dropped in a plastic bag, labeled, and hung on the classroom wall. It was about two weeks later that they started to see mold growth. The results were “a big surprise” for the class, according to the teachers. While they assumed that the unwashed hands sample might be the most vulnerable to mold, it turned out that the bread rubbed on the Chromebooks turned the blackest and fuzziest of all.

… They also didn’t expect to learn that hand washing would be the most effective means of battling bacterial growth, as opposed to hand sanitizer. The teachers think the problem with antibacterial gels, which allegedly kill 99.9% of germs, may be from improper use. They said, “Kids don’t use hand sanitizer … the way it’s supposed to be used,” which requires rubbing their hands together for a full 20 seconds, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

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