Yikes - germs?!
You probably know that germs are often what make people sick. Germs come many different forms including bacteria or viruses - like the new Coronavirus that you've probably been hearing a lot about.
These tiny organisms can make us sick - but first they have to find a way to get inside our bodies! To do that, germs can often hitch a ride on our hands.
That's why washing our hands is so important. Washing your hands can kill the germs before they get inside our bodies AND before we can spread the germs to other people.
Germs are so small that you can't see them with your eyes. Wouldn't it be great if they were lit up like a glow stick so we'd always know where they were?
Well, in this month's 20 Minute Lab experiment, we'll use something that acts a lot like germs but that we can see!
You'll be able to check your hand-washing skills to know that you're doing your best to fight the spread of germs!
NOTE: Here we used a special product called Glo Germ that you can order online, but we also are providing instructions for using oil and cinnamon instead - this alternative works great, it just doesn't glow under a light!
What You'll Need
You can do the experiment twice and switch places with your helper if you want to practice both roles and see what happens!
What's going on?
How clean did your hands get at 5 seconds? 10 seconds? 20 seconds?
This point of this experiment is to give you a visual illustration of how well germs stick to the natural oils on our hands. Soap works to break up dirt and grease, so the germs get washed down the drain along with the water.
How does this work? Soap molecules are made up of two different ends. One end loves water (hydrophilic), and the other end hates water (hydrophobic) but loves fat (like in oils).
The hydrophobic, fat-loving ends stick to the fats, surround them, and trap them. It's like a bunch of velcro sticking to the wood blocks of a Jenga tower, breaking it up and making it collapse!
While some alcohol-based hand sanitizers can kill germs and viruses on your hands, they're not as good at removing the natural oils that germs can attach to.
In the case of the Coronavirus, soap not only breaks down the oils on our hands, but it also kills the virus itself! The Coronavirus has a coating that's a lot like oil - the soap wedges its fat-loving ends into the virus’s fatty shell. This breaks up the virus, and the inactive pieces can get washed down the drain!
This is why washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to make sure you're virus free!
To learn more about soap vs hand sanitizer, see the CDC website.
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