Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 1, Day 4) – The Unseen World of Microorganisms
Today was all about food microbiology in our class! We talked about what microorganisms can be found in our food and the microorganisms that actually MAKE our food. Ask your kindergartner about yogurt, cheese, bread and sausage. Some of the terms they learned to day include: Lactobacillus (lacto means “milk” and bacillus means “rod-shaped”, so these are rod-shaped bacteria that live in milk products like yogurt and Kefir). We also took a look at yeast involved in bread and cake making. Yeast are fungi and if you ask your SAVY student what they look like, expect answers like “they have buttons” or “they look like dinosaur feet”. These kids are so creative when they report their observations! To get their creative juices flowing during our art module, we painted some of our favorite foods, and then I had the students use their imaginations to paint what type of microorganism they thought might be living in that food. I’m continually amazed at their artistic skills and how they soak up the knowledge like a sponge (example: “I think that this cupcake is like bread, so it may have yeast in it.”) After learning all about the bugs that live in our food, we performed not one, not two, but THREE lab experiments today. Our first lab experiment was to look at the microbes on moldy food. We looked at moldy strawberries under the microscope, and moldy raspberries, moldy bread, and a slice of moldy cucumber. Ask your SAVY student about moldy fruit. Is it okay to eat? What does it taste like? What does mold look like under the microscope? Finally, we performed an experiment where they tested the acid in food or water (sugar water supplemented with vinegar) by adding it to sugar water with a pH indicator that turns from pink (when basic) to yellow (when acidic). Just a few drops and the students got to see the solution turn from pink to yellow right before their eyes. This is an example of a test that is used to determine if our food/water is safe (or if our food/water is contaminated with lactose fermenters such as E. coli). Ask your SAVY child what it means when the solution turns yellow (acid production=bacteria are present!).
Then, we set up a culture experiment to see what microbes we have on our hands! We started by asking: why is it important to wash our hands before we eat? Answer: Because we use our hands to eat, it is one of the major ways that germs get inside of our bodies. We placed our hands onto bacteriological media and we will see what microbes we can find from our hands!! The plates are cooking in the incubator right now, and I can’t wait to see what they will look like tomorrow!
Finally, we talked about the importance of carbon dioxide in food production. I told your SAVY child that bread, cake, and other baked goods utilize microorganisms (or leavening agents) to make pockets of gas that give our baked goods their spongey, delicious texture. I had the kids try to detect carbon dioxide coming out of their bodies by blowing on the back of their hands. Then, I gave them dry ice to show carbon dioxide gas production and how that would make pockets within dough.
I can’t wait to see you all and show you the awesome things your child has been doing together with us this week!