As coronavirus ( COVID-19) continues to spread, health officials are driving home the importance of hand washing, but sometimes it is hard for parents to convince kids that washing their hands is important. After all, they can’t see the germs, so it is hard to understand why this matters so much.
That’s why we love how some creative teachers have used bread to show kids just how germy their hands can get.
“We took fresh bread and touched it. We did one slice untouched. One with unwashed hands. One with hand sanitizer. One with washed hands with warm water and soap. Then we decided to rub a piece on all our classroom Chromebooks,” teacher Jaralee Annice Metcalf writes in a now-viral Facebook post.
When the bread was left in sealed plastic bags the slices that had been exposed to more bacteria via laptops and unwashed hands grew the most mold.
The bread that had been rubbed on those Chromebooks might be the grossest piece of bread we’ve ever seen, and really underscores Jaralee’s point: “As somebody who is sick and tired of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Wash your hands! Remind your kids to wash their hands! And hand sanitizer is not an alternative to washing hands!”
The CDC agrees with this elementary school teacher: Handwashing reduces the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illnesses (like COVID-19) so it’s a good idea to teach kids to do it properly and often.
Jaralee isn’t the first teacher to go viral for incorporating this experiment into her classroom and she probably won’t be the last. Full instructions for this project are listed on the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital website and are easy to replicate at home.
Her Facebook post has been criticized by people questioning the conditions of her experiment, but as she notes on her Facebook page, they’re kind of missing the point: “We are an elementary school. Not a fancy CDC lab, so relax a little and WASH YOUR HANDS.”
It’s good advice from a caring teacher and a reminder to wash our hands (and sanitize our laptops!)
[A version of this post was originally published December 13, 2019.]