Growing Cooties

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In this health activity (located on page 4 of the PDF), learners will discover the importance of hand washing by observing mold growing on potatoes. Comparing mold growth on the potatoes will give the learners first-hand proof that washing hands does reduce or prevent the spread of germs. This is included as a pre-visit activity for a workshop about fighting germs, but is an excellent stand alone activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 3 clean, dry potatoes
  • 3 glass jars with tight fitting lids and labels
  • Soap and water
  • Individual paper towels
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Warm place to store the jars
  • Paper and pencil for recording results


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Protists and Fungi
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
      • Immune System
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Student Workshops


  • All rights reserved, COSI Columbus, 2009