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Handwashing Laboratory Activities: Bowl Technique

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    National Health Museum

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Handwashing Laboratory Activities: Bowl Technique

In this lab (Activity #2 on page), learners compare bacteria growth on two petri dishes containing nutrient agar. Learners touch the doors, faucets, etc. in bathroom and then immerse their hands in 100 ml sterile water. They place 0.5 ml of this "dirty" water into one petri dish. They repeat this process again but wash their hands before immersing them in 100 ml sterile water. Learners incubate the plates for 24-48 hours and then score the results based on the bacteria growth they observe. Use this activity to emphasize the importance of hand-washing and the effectiveness of soap to disinfect.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Two sterilized bowls (wash then rinse out with alcohol and sterile water)
  • 100 ml sterile water per bowl
  • Two petri plates containing nutrient agar
  • Marker for labeling
  • Soap
  • L-shaped glass rod
  • Incubator (optional)
  • Paper for recording results


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Viruses and Bacteria
    • Human Body
      • Muscles and Skin
      • Health and Nutrition
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Case, Ed.D., Christine L.


  • All Rights Reserved, Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum, ©2009


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