Fifth graders recently completed a hands-project in which they explored the causes of mold growth on food. After selecting samples of different foods (including carrots, bread, sage, thyme, tomatoes, chives, and more), each student added the food and a small amount of water to a petri dish and left it in a cool, dark place. The results were amazing, since it wasn’t in anyone’s refrigerator! Mold of many different colors grew and grew, as students observed and recorded changes each week. Two mold samples even bred some flies.
By the end of the project, students concluded that a small amount of water helped mold growth. Questions that remained for future research included:
– Why are different molds different colors?
– Will the mold consume the food and then begin to consume itself, or will it stop growing?
– Why does bread grow mold very easily and carrots not grow mold so easily?
Students theorized that the spongy texture of bread was better suited to encourage mold growth, whereas the smooth surface of carrots was less suitable. We also discussed whether the amount of water in a food affected its ability to foster mold growth. Perhaps these questions can fuel future scientific inquiries!