An investigation is carried out by a microbiologist to find out what germs or microbes can be found on the surface of a hand. Trish has not washed her hands all day. She visits a hospital laboratory and a microbiologist to find out just how many germs (or microbes) there are on her hands. Microbes are small forms of life which are too small to see with the naked eye; but they can be seen under a microscope. There are a whole range of different types of microbes. One of these types is bacteria. There are different types of bacteria, and examples which have been magnified a thousand times are shown. Even clean hands carry millions of microbes, although not all of these are harmful. However, you should always wash your hands before eating.

This clip is from:
Science Clips, Micro Organisms
First broadcast:
11 October 2007

Students could explore how quickly germs can spread when we do not wash our hands regularly, by conducting their own experiment. Three or four students could be selected to receive the first batch of germs. They could pretend to sneeze or cough and a mixture of green glitter and sticky gel such as hair gel could be spread on their hands. Ask students to move around the room, and on a given signal find a partner and tell them why they think it is important to wash our hands before eating, or other germ- related questions. When they have shared their ideas with one another they should shake hands and move on. After five questions students could stop and examine their hands. How far have the green glitter germs spread? Students could also explore any surfaces in the classroom the germs may have transferred to throughout the activity. From this experiment students can identify how quickly and easily germs are spread. They could then discuss how we can stop the spread of germs and create their own germ-busting posters with advice on how to stop the spread of germs.

Students could then be shown the correct way to wash hands to reduce the spread of germs and draw posters outlining each step in writing.