Viral Experiment Shows Kids Very Important Lesson
Joshua Patton 9/28/2017
The importance of hand-washing can't be overstated, but for little kids it also couldn't be more boring, lame, and inconvenient. However, there's a simple experiment teachers can use to vividly illustrate the consequences of dirty mitts.
Our hands are our user-interface for the world. We touch door handles, railings, and other people's hands when we greet them. Along the way, our hands pick up millions of nearly-invisible microbes, germs, and all sorts of nasty stuff.
Flickr/Jamie Buscemi's pics
Courtney Lee Simpson, a teacher in Tennessee went viral when she posted her version of an experiment to Facebook. Using bread, resealable baggies, and some tape, Courtney taught her students a lesson they'd never forget.
Wearing sterile gloves, Courtney placed one slice of bread into a bag and sealed it. She placed another slice of bread into the baggie with her bare hands, but after washing them thoroughly. Then she told the students to pass around a piece of bread and then place it in a bag marked "dirty hands." The result was gross, but an effective lesson.
Facebook/Courtney Lee Simpson
The bread in the "dirty hands" bag was quickly overcome with mold, while the other two slices of bread still looked perfectly edible. The mold growth certainly would have been less substantial had Courtney been the only one to touch the bread, instead of her entire class.
Mold grows from spores floating in the air all around us, but it needs the right conditions to take root. If these bags had been placed in a constantly-dark environment, the growth would have likely been more substantial.
Of course, this wasn't an experiment about how mold grows on bread, but rather one about the importance of frequently washing one's hands.
While it seems like common-sense, almost instinct, that washing your hands is better than not washing them, the idea that it's safer is relatively new. Doctors and medical professionals didn't require hand-washing until the 1840s when it's effectiveness started to be proven.
As more people realized this was correct, cutesy sayings like "God made dirt, and dirt don't hurt!" were replaced with "Please, wash your hands."
In today's age of constant miracles, some people may think that hand washing is not as important as it once was. Thanks to alcohol-based hand sanitizer, some believe it serves as an adequate replacement for hand-washing, but this is just not true.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control report that while hand-sanitizer is useful in situations where washing your hands isn't possible, it doesn't eliminate all germs. It also does nothing to remove harmful chemical residue or trace amounts of heavy metals from hands.
Lathering your hands with soap and rinsing them clean with water remain the most effective way to remove germs and all the rest.
Proper hand-washing takes five steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. This simple act has done more to stop the spread of illness perhaps more than any other medical advancement. In fact, thorough hand-washing remains one of the best defenses we have against the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, because if fewer people get sick fewer folks will need antibiotics. Thus, these bacteria have less opportunity to evolve resistance.
It's a lesson we all already know, but thanks to innovative teachers like Courtney it's one we can continue to learn again and again.