Teacher's Bread Science Experiment Shows Why Washing Your Hands Is so Important

Mark Pygas - Author

Dec. 17 2019, Updated 8:50 a.m. ET

It's flu season, and the Centers for Disease Control are reporting widespread influenza activity in 23 states. But if that's not enough to make you wash your hands regularly, there's also plenty of stomach bugs that will make you feel pretty miserable throughout the festive period.  

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To show her students why washing your hands is so important during the winter months, teacher Jaralee Annice Metcalf decided to run a little science experiment. "We did a science project in class this last month as flu season was starting," Metcalf explained in a Facebook post.  

"We took fresh bread and touched it. We did one slice untouched. One with unwashed hands. One with hand sanitizer. One with washed hands with warm water and soap. Then we decided to rub a piece on all our classroom Chromebooks."

The results were pretty disgusting. 

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We're never touching someone else's laptop ever again. 

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In an update to the Facebook post, Metcalf explained that while they usually sanitize the school's Chromebooks, they didn't do so for this experiment.

"The control piece wasn't fresh when we took this picture," Metcalf added. "It just wasn't ever touched with naked hands and it was moved immediately from the bread bag to the zip lock baggie (every piece of bread here is from the same loaf and same day)." 

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Metcalf explained that the experiment took around a month and was based on a science experiment by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

"If the bread had been exposed to air and moisture, the experiment may have gone faster," Metcalf told Parents. "The breads that were very clearly exposed to different germs grew mold quicker. And ones touches by clean hands plus the soap and water ones were not exposed to the germs that cause the mold growth to quicken." 

In her Facebook post, Metcalf explained that she'd done the experiment and posted it to Facebook because she is "somebody who is sick and tired of being sick and tired of being sick and tired and urged followers to wash their hands."

She hopes the gross example will encourage people, including the children's parents, to regularly wash their hands.   

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"Germs spread rapidly," Metcalf said. "And it doesn't matter how often they're told or how well they're taught to wash their hands, children won't always do it properly or enough."  

As you can probably imagine, people were grossed out by the example.

"And this is why I have Clorox wipes and wipe my electronics and office equipment every Friday," one user wrote. 

While another added: "I hate when I ask my child to wash hands and other mums tell me 'I have wipes' or 'I have gel', I think it is disgusting. I will love to do the experiment with my daughter as she complains for washing hands."

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