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Handwashing Laboratory Activities: Fingerprint Technique

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    National Health Museum

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Handwashing Laboratory Activities: Fingerprint Technique

In this lab (Activity #1 on page), learners compare bacteria growth on two petri dishes containing nutrient agar: one that has been touched by a finger washed only with water and one that has been touched by a finger washed with soap. 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 handwashing 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 petri plates containing nutrient agar
  • Soap
  • Marker for labeling
  • Sink/water
  • 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
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • 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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