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Exploring Food Microbiology in Science Projects

Using food microbiology science fair projects as a learning tool is a great idea. Not only does it educate students about the unseen world that thrives around them, but it also engages them in active learning. This will help the students to enhance their understanding of microbiology concepts, as well as help them to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.

What are Good Microbes?

The first set of microbiology science fair projects that you can introduce to your students will focus on the good microbes. These microbes are used to enhance the flavor of foods, to preserve foods and to ferment foods. Students will generally be able to consume the finished products from these experiments, however, this is not always the case.

There are several types of good microbes that can be examined in a food microbiology science fair project. Cheese science fair projects, for example, are very popular. They examine how microbes are used to transform liquid milk into a solid cheese product. Students can also see how various microbes, mainly molds, are used to add specific flavors and textures to cheeses that are manufactured.

What are Harmful Effects of Microbes?

While microbes can be used to enhance the flavor and value of some foods, microbes can also create harmful effects when exposed to foods. These microbes are bad because they produce toxins and contagions that will taint foods. When humans eat the microbe tainted foods they can get very ill or even die.

Students working with bad food microbes will need to be very careful. They will need to wear latex gloves, they will want to wear goggles and they will need to clean their test surfaces and tools with soapy water or antibacterial solutions after working with their microbes. Students will also need to take steps to prevent the release of these hazardous microbes into the classroom or into their home.

What are Ugly but Benefical to the Environment Microbes?

Food microbes are important components of the environment. Their natural role in the environment is usually the decomposition of specific types of elements. For example, molds and mildews are great for decomposing food items.

The decay process is very interesting to examine in a science fair project. Students can look at what impacts the rate of decay, what the decay process looks like at its various stages and how specific types of microbes decay various food items. These projects are going to be gross to watch and they will produce smells that can be obnoxious to others. It is because of this that students will need to either conduct their experiments outside or they will want to keep the decay experiments in a closed container.

Purpose of Studying Microbiology

Exploring food microbiology in science projects is a lot of fun. Students can gain experience working with microscopes and they can also gain experience with the scientific method. These project will require students to collect and culture microbe colonies. This is a skill that students will be able to use in their biology and microbiology courses later on in their academic careers.

Contributed by Madeline Binder

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Friday, March 19, 2010