Recently, a group of local high school students took a few BioBoxes to a remote village in South Africa. Their intent was to partner with the village educators to help inspire younger, South African students with the wonders of science.
One of the high school students described her experience the evening after meeting with the students, ”We showed the students different cells under the microscope (their first time seeing and using a microscope). We talked about good and bad bacteria and germs. We also set up different Petri dishes to compare germ counts on different surfaces.”
The lead teacher further reflected on their time, “The BioBox Labs introduced the students to “bad” and “good” germs. Using a Bio Box Lab microscope*, the students saw first-hand up-close peeks into the real world around us; whether examining the eye of a mosquito or a paramecium, the students were transfixed by seeing the world on microscopic levels.”
The students also used sterile cotton applicators* to swipe various surfaces and then create their own labs in petri dishes*. The kids had so much fun swiping desk tops, curtains, door knobs, the underneath of a toilet seat, etc and then “planting” their findings in a garden of agar.
At another station, the students used petri dishes* and pipettes* to experiment with various ways germs (including “good” germs) grow. Using the pipettes like a surgeon utilizes his/her scalpel, the students fastidiously planted and irrigated a variety of germ environments.
Four days later, the students saw the results of their fun efforts to understand and visibly identify germs. The petri dishes represented a swath of the rainbow! The colorful assortment of stripes and polka-dots (along with the smells in some cases) revealed to the students the growth of germs. They discovered that the germs swiped from door knobs, desk tops and curtains were the most prolific and surprisingly the germs from the toilet seat were few and far between (thankfully). The students also conducted an experiment around hand-washing.
According to the lead teacher, “the BioBox Labs were extremely effective – an educators’ dream. The hands-on experiments moved the students from hearing about science to actually being scientists themselves. The BioBox taught the students about germs and so much more: science is fun, the steps and thrills around discovery, the value of hands-on experiments, the lessons from collaboration, and the importance of safety. As a result, the students have an insatiable appetite for learning more science. The fact that the Bio Box Labs translated well across cultures (and hemispheres) reveals the program’s clarity and effectiveness in captivating and teaching students.”
We are so grateful to partner with these inspiring high school students and teachers! It is inspiring to hear stories of young South African students getting their first scientific glimpse of the living world.
*Items where this was the first time the students had ever used this apparatus.