Monday, December 6, 2010


Saturday Grace and I had the amazing opportunity to attend a three hour biology at the main campus of UCONN taught by Dr. Ken Noll, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology.  The focus was kitchen germs: health or harmful?  How clean is your kitchen?  We started our journey at 8am armed with breakfast, coffee and a used kitchen washcloth that was used to clean up the morning mess.  I hoped to use the one from the previous day but it was tossed into the wash before I could set it aside.

Using the scientific method we constructed an experiment to see which conditions affect yeast’s ability to produce CO2.  Our variable was temperature and our samples were placed in an ice bath, warm bath, close to boiling bath and room temperature.  Grace’s prediction was that the room temperature sample would produce the greatest amount of carbon dioxide.  In fact, the warm bath, 45 degrees C ended up being the most productive.

While our yeast samples were growing, we learned the proper hand washing procedure.  We swabbed our hands before and after washing and wiped the swab on a petri dish where the bacteria will grow.  Dr. Noll’s graduate students who assisted with this class will post the finished samples on their facebook site.

After our hand washing demonstration we moved into proper cooking procedures.  Dr. Noll prepared chicken and carrots disregarding hand washing, separate knives and cutting boards, while his assistant used the proper techniques.  Before they both began they sprinkled just the chicken with glow-germ, which can be seen under ultra-violet light.  As expected we would not want to eat the meal prepared by Dr. Noll.  But surprisingly, even after proper procedure and hand washing, bacterial germs were found on the assistant’s hands, around her fingernails.  

Do you adhere to the 5 second rule?  How about the 2 second rule?  I don’t think Grace will any longer!  Using the glow-germ, we tested crackers, cheese and banana on tile and carpet.  As expected the cracker picked up the fewest germs especially on the carpet.

To conclude our class we used the high magnification microscopes to view bacteria from cheese, natural vinegar, yogurt and the wash clothes we brought!  Unfortunately our washcloth has a small amount of bacteria but we were able to view the samples from others which were dirtier and had more bacteria.

Giving a ten year old a college experience is a great gift.  We talked about the difference between small schools (like the one I attended) and huge universities (like her father attended).  She wondered if UCONN has a good meteorology department.  We are going to investigate that.  We also made plans to attend the Arts Fest at Penn State next summer so she can see her Father’s alma matter.   Grace and I had some quality mother-daughter time.  I can’t wait to take her to the next class!


Karen said...

What an awesome day! How lucky you were to get to do that with Grace. The whole 'germs' thing kinda freaks me out. I am definitely a 'less info is better' kind of girl. I think it most people knew what we were eating we would all just eat bananas and apples. :)

Jessica said...

We also talked about germs that are beneficial because their job is to keep away the unhealthy ones. It was highly recommended not to use anti-bacterial soap often and use hand sanitizer even less. I am not a fan of either so it was no big deal for us! They tend to kill off the good bacteria and can actually make it easier for the bad bacteria to develop.

Theresa said...

We seldom use the hand sanitizers either, but just yesterday one of my pretzels fell on the table at co-op and I was kinda grossed out, but really hungry so I ate it since it was only there for 5 seconds or less...and now I have a cold...hmmm...I don't know if it could happen that fast, but I think after reading this and getting this cold, I will think twice before I adhere to the 5 second rule again!

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