Haller Middle School students conducted science experiments to help prove the efficacy of handwashing when they returned to in-person learning recently.
Students used a powder that lights up under ultraviolet light to coat their hands, then washed them and see how well they removed the material.
“Everyone got to cover their hands to simulate germs,” said Natalie Hollifield, one of the Haller Middle School science teachers behind the experiment. “We were really focusing on germs and the spread of germs, and preventing the spread, specifically through hand-washing.”
Students were testing the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations about the amount of hand-washing required.
“They were really looking at the claim from the CDC that you needed to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water,” said Rachel Harrington, the other Haller Middle School science teacher behind the experiment.
Harrington said being skeptical and testing are part of the scientific method.
“Being a critical thinker means you take in claims and then test them to see if they are indeed accurate. So they tested that claim and did, indeed, find that it was accurate,” said Harrington.
Students also got to see first-hand how well their own hand-washing techniques worked.
“They all learned things about themselves, like how effective their hand-washing is,” said Hollifield.
Hollifield, whose class is a grade level higher than Harrington’s, took things a step further and talked about hand sanitizer as well.
“We talked about the claim that the hand sanitizer kills 99 percent of germs,” she said.
The sanitizer can kill the germs but the only way to remove them from the hands is still hand-washing, said Hollifield.
Haller Middle School students returned to class part-time in a hybrid model this month.
“They’ve been out of school since last March, so being able to go hands-on with their learning was incredible,” said Harrington. “In terms of engagement or enthusiasm it was through the roof. If you were to come in you would see that every kid is with it and invested in the experiment.”
It was a good way to bring students back to the school campus.
“It was in the first week they came back, so I think it’s safe to say that it got them excited about education again,” said Harrington.
Experiencing the sciences is a much better way for them to learn, said Hollifield.
“Over the computer we were reading and seeing the things, but we weren’t doing them,” she said. “When you’re not gathering the data yourself, that’s not as meaningful to a seventh grader.”
The smaller class sizes from the hybrid model helped get through the experiment faster and give every student a chance to participate as well.
“There’s a lot of negatives that come with not being here five days a week but the reduced class size is definitely a positive in some cases,” said Hollifield.