Banishing bacteria

Hand sanitizer became an important part of 2020, and the Ohio Corn and Wheat-sponsored Feed the World workshop kicked off with participants making their own sanitizer using ethanol. Janel Gerwin, Family and Consumer Science teacher at Penta Career Center, used the activity with her Food Science students while they learned about food safety and agriculture products.

First, her students made the hand sanitizer. They discussed the origins of the ingredients as well as suggested levels of alcohol for effectiveness, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Second, students took test swabs of different surfaces and tested the bacterial growth using Luria Broth agar plates. They used different cleaning agents (the hand sanitizer they’d made, cold water and soap, warm water and soap, microfiber cloth), then compared surfaces after cleaning. They completed a data chart for each method after 1, 3, and 5 days, then considered the data gathered and developed a plan for future research.

Gerwin said, “My students enjoyed the activity and the discussion of results. This lesson involves a simple concept, but the students were actively engaged because they can relate it to the current pandemic and our response to it. The school principal walked into class while we were having our discussion and they asked her several questions about how the school is cleaned.”

These activities fit into Gerwin’s Food Safety and Sanitation unit in Food Science. This specific activity covers the Ohio Family and Consumer Science Standard 3.4.2, Prevent food safety risks by controlling conditions under which bacteria grow.

“This workshop has helped me teach my food science standards related to careers, technology, and food safety in food science,” Gerwin said. “I have given examples of how corn is sustainably grown and the plethora of careers available to them in this field. I’ll continue to use the materials to teach genetic modification in foods when we are in our “farm to table” unit.”

Teachers who’ve attended our workshops use the lessons and materials provided with their students for years! Be sure to watch our newsletter and social media so YOU can come to a future workshop!