Teachers’ Germ-filled Experiment on Handwashing Reveals the Power of Soap and Water

March 26, 2020 Updated: March 26, 2020

As the massive outbreak of the novel coronavirus captures the headlines, an Idaho teacher’s classroom science experiment serves as a timely reminder of the importance of handwashing.

Behavior specialist Jaralee Annice Metcalf and teacher Dayna Robertson of Discovery Falls Elementary School in Idaho teamed up to show their students the gross effects of unwashed hands. The one-month-long experiment compared five pieces of bread after being exposed to germs.

Epoch Times Photo
Photo courtesy of Jaralee Annice Metcalf

The bread slices were touched by students with unwashed hands, hands washed with a sanitizer, and hands washed with warm water and soap. One slice was rubbed on the students’ Chromebooks, and one control slice was kept clean and untouched. Within weeks, the pieces of bread were taking dramatically different courses. The results were shocking.

“This is so DISGUSTING!!!” Metcalf wrote on her Facebook post.

The pieces of bread touched with unwashed hands and those wiped on the laptops had developed terrifying-looking colonies of yellow and blue mold. Even the piece touched by kids who cleaned their hands with sanitizer showed significant mold.

Epoch Times Photo
(L): The bread slice wiped on Chromebooks. (R): The slice touched with dirty hands. (Photo courtesy of Jaralee Annice Metcalf)

The photos showed that the most shocking and surprising result was the fate of the piece rubbed on the laptops. However, Metcalf made it clear in her post that she was in “no way trying to make Google Chromebooks look bad.”

“[A]ll laptops have germs,” she wrote, “the amount is based on the person/people using them and not the brand.”

The other most surprising finding was the piece touched with hands cleaned with a sanitizer; it yielded far more mold than the sample touched by hands washed with water and soap.

Epoch Times Photo
(L): The bread touched with hands cleaned with a sanitizer. (R): The bread slice touched by hands washed with water and soap. (Photo courtesy of Jaralee Annice Metcalf)

“The students all thought it was gross,” classroom teacher Robertson told TODAY. “They have really turned their hand-washing around (since the experiment). They realized that sanitizer doesn’t cut it, and they’ve got to do soap and water.”

The sample touched by kids who had washed their hands with soap and water looked almost identical to the control piece. Metcalf noted on her Facebook post that the control piece wasn’t fresh at the time of taking that picture.

“It just wasn’t ever touched with naked hands,” Metcalf wrote, “and it was moved immediately from the bread bag to the zip lock baggie (every piece of bread here is from the same loaf and same day).”

Epoch Times Photo
(L): The bread slice touched by hands washed with water and soap. (R): The untouched bread slice, the control experiment. (Photo courtesy of Jaralee Annice Metcalf)

Metcalf and Robertson had decided to try out the experiment in their classroom after coming across the idea on the Mystery Science website in November last year just when cold and flu season was getting underway. Definitely for the students, seeing the effects of their own dirty hands was a real wake-up call.

They clearly understood the results of the experiment. Since the experiment, students are much quicker to wash their hands without needing to be asked by their teacher.

“They are taking the initiative themselves,” Robertson told TODAY.

Epoch Times Photo
Illustration – Shutterstock | myboys.me

“As somebody who is sick and tired of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Wash your hands!” Metcalf wrote on Facebook. “Remind your kids to wash their hands!”

Given that the post has been shared almost 75,000 times, many other teachers and students have hopefully learned the lesson as well.

In light of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, the CDC is reminding Americans that there’s no better way to avoid sickness than proper handwashing. The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

In just five simple steps, the risk of transmitting the CCP virus and other infectious diseases can be dramatically reduced.

 Below are the five key handwashing steps as suggested by the CDC:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.