PBS KIDS GO!dragonflytv

Find out when DragonflyTV is on in your town.
Discover DFTV!
This text is replaced by the Flash movie.

Glo Germ by Jordan and Sydney

As the weather gets colder, kids seem to share a lot more germs. As busy scientists, we don't have time to get sick. Our DFTV question: how can we avoid spreading germs and viruses to our friends and families? Does it make a difference whether we sneeze into our hands or into our elbows?

What did we do?
Since the germs we wanted to study are invisible, we ordered a "Glo-Germ" kit. The materials in this kit simulate germs, but actually glow under a black light so you can see how the germs "travel" from person to person. We took our Glo-Germ kit to a bowling party, and put orange Glo-Germ in Sydney's hand (as if she sneezed into her palm) and white Glo-Germ in Sydney's inner elbow (as if she sneezed into the crook of her arm). We then bowled with our friends for one hour, and tested to see how much of the Glo-Germ powder had spread.

What did we find out?
Our results showed that the orange Glo-Germ (starting in Sydney's hand) spread to 8 out of 8 party guests. The white Glo-Germ (starting in Sydney's elbow) only spread to 3 out of 8 of our friends. Our friends ended up with Glo-Germ on their own hands and clothes, and sometimes on their faces! That told us that the Glo-Germ (and real germs) seem to spread most often by hand-to-hand contact, not as much by elbow-to-hand contact. We also saw orange Glo-Germ on some of the things that all of us were handling, like bowling balls and the snack bowl!

What can you do?
  • Instead of using Glo-Germ, you can try a similar experiment with glitter. Place some glitter on a door handle, let people use the door for awhile, then look to see where the glitter spread to.
  • Track the number of sick kids in your class room throughout the school year. Are more kids sick during the winter, spring, or fall?
  • Mold can also make some people sick. Wipe a cotton swab on the kitchen or bathroom countertop, then dab it onto a piece of white bread. Add a few drops of water, then close the bread in a plastic zipper bag and leave it in a warm place for a few days. If your cotton swab collected molds from the countertop, they will grow on the bread.
  • Use this human body investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
more resources
More on germs.

Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
dragonflytv PBS Kids Go!