IGEM Outreach:All About Bacteria: How Clean Are Your Hands?

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All About Bacteria: How Clean Are Your Hands?

  • Waterloo iGEM 2011
  • Aimed towards primary school (Grades 3-5)
  • Download handout and presentation outline

Downloadable Materials

Presentation Outline



The aim of this activity is to teach primary school students the basics about bacteria:

  • What are microorganisms?
  • What are some morphological characteristics you can use to describe them?
  • Where can we find them (we're going to teach them...everywhere!)
  • Not every microorganism is pathogenic, some are actually helpful

Students will get the chance to swab a sanitized vs. unsanitized hand and compare them. They will also get the opportunity to swab an everyday surface and plate that as well. After 24hrs of incubation, they will get the chance to analyze and describe what has grown on their plates!


  • Petri dishes
  • Agar
  • Cotton swabs/Q-tips
  • Incubator
  • Tape (to seal plates once they have been swabbed)


  • Since these students are very young, try to emphasize the prevention of cross-contamination and proper sterilization techniques (key word is 'try). Even if they are not perfect, at least they can understand why we use those techniques in the lab in the first place.
  • As a proper safety precaution, enforce the fact that they cannot put these swabs in their mouths, ears or eyes. This is just asking for unsafe protocol in case someone might be sick. They can swab their hands, feet or hair for instance.

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