6-year-old child labels petri dish for germ experiment

Grow your own germs with this at-home STEAM lesson

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Staying home. Wearing masks. The back and forth over whether school will be in person or virtual again this year – and whether sports will happen at all.

A lot is changing for your kids, and with something as small as a virus, it might be hard for them to see why.

“Sometimes we’re afraid of what we can’t see and we don’t understand it,” said Shannon Egli, anatomical coordinator for Jump Simulation.

That’s why Egli put together another Jump STEAM at Home experiment your kids can do to learn more about how viruses like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are spread.

“This is a way of actually seeing what things are and understanding where they are around you, and then you can better control the situation,” he said.

Germs and microbes

6-year-old coughs into petri dish with a face mask on in germ experimentIn this experiment, you and your kid can test exactly how microbes grow and how the spread of germs can be slowed.

Using cheese, bread or a homemade Petri dish, you can test any number of hypotheses – does wearing a mask reduce the spread of germs? Are fewer germs spread when you wash your hands with soap and water or when you use hand sanitizer?

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What it all means

There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Egli agrees. When it comes to mask wearing, this experiment is a lesson for everyone to take to heart.

“I think the masks make a difference. It’s kind of like not smoking and wearing shoes in a store. It’s just one of those basic courtesies to the other people around you, not just because of you. The whole world doesn’t revolve around just this person. We are wearing masks because we’re protecting other people around us, not just us,” Egli said.

Once you’ve seen how germs grow, Egli hopes it will be easier to see how you can stop the spread with three simple steps: washing your hands, watching your distance and wearing a mask.

Last Updated: August 25, 2020

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About Author: Katie Whitt

Katie Whitt is a marketing and communications coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since January 2016. Originally from Valparaiso, Indiana, she came to Peoria to earn her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Bradley University. Before joining OSF, she worked as a copy editor for both the Peoria Journal Star and The Bloomington Pantagraph.

In her spare time, Katie enjoys traveling, reading anything she can get her hands on and spending shameful amounts of time watching Netflix. She justifies her couch time with kickboxing and running.

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Categories: COVID-19, Innovation, Kids & Family