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Nightmare on Tech Street

By Christy Crawford on October 20, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

Who cares about crazed maniacs, vampires, or zombies? What you should be afraid of — very afraid of — is bad germs.  Studies from the University of Arizona (home to some of the most frightening germ research) rank teaching as the “germiest" job.  Those same studies claim computer keyboards are four hundred times dirtier than toilet seats.  Microbiologists found that keyboards harbored 3,295 germs per square inch while toilet seats contained a mere 49 germs per square inch.  Yuck! Whether you have just one desktop computer in your classroom or a computer lab full of equipment, read on for an engaging activity to kiss that bad bacteria (or those vicious viruses) goodbye and keep kids healthy and happy.

You’ll Need:

* A flu season supply list to send home to students’ families. Include disinfecting wipes, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and facial tissues.

* Poster board, markers, and string to create a germ costume.

* Glo Germ. No money?  No problem.  Talk to your school nurse. Many school districts or cities provide bottles of this scary stuff for teaching proper hand-washing technique.

A long-wave UV-A light  for viewing “germs.” (Use a light with a wavelength of 3,500 to 3,800 angstroms for safety.)   Your school nurse may also have one of these, or check out Amazon.com.

* Access to sinks or soap-filled washing stations.

The Process:

Do your students regularly wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap?  Do they yawn, sneeze, or cough into their elbow? Remind students to share equipment — not germs.

Step 1:  Ask your school nurse to share his or her expertise with students, and see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site for step-by-step instructions for washing hands.  Grab a great book or video and use it to review proper hygiene with students.   

Step 2: Has everyone digested the information?  Put your kids to the test. Call in your resident “bad germ“ to dispense one or two squirts of Glo Germ onto students‘ hands. Make sure students coat the backs of their hands and scrape their fingernails on their palms to “infect” nails. 

Step 3: For the full scare effect, turn out the classroom lights. Hold hands under the ultraviolet light and commence germ inspections.  Expect lots of disgusted squeals.

Step 4: Let the washing parade begin!

Step 5: Test again with the UV-A light.  Are students' hands still coated?  Did they forget to wash between fingers or under nails?  Review proper hand-washing technique and send them back to the sinks! 

Step 6: Once hands are perfectly cleaned, have students review the lessons of the day.  Encourage your students to discuss these lesson with their families, and send home the flu-season supply list.

Has hand washing become a regular part of your students' digital routine?  How are you preventing the spread of dangerous germs via equipment?  Please share here.




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