Our hands are naturally covered by useful bacteria – Staphylococcus is a common example. However, we can pick up harmful microbes from the things we touch. Hand hygiene is possibly the single most effective way of reducing and preventing the spread of these microbes and any associated infection.

Schools and community groups are a relatively crowded and closed environment where microbes can spread easily and rapidly via direct contact or surfaces. Some of these microbes can be harmful and cause illnesses. Washing our hands with soap and water at key moments removes any harmful microbes we pick up on our hands from our surroundings. Effective hand washing has been shown to reduce absenteeism rates in schools.

In this lesson plan, students conduct an experiment to identify the importance of washing their hands on the growth of microbe colonies. They will also learn how hand hygiene affects those around them and reduces the transmission of microbes that could cause illness.

Learning Outcomes:

  • All students will:
  • Understand that infection can be spread through unclean hands
  • Understand that sometimes microbes can make us ill
  • Understand how, when and why to wash their hands
  • Understand that handwashing can prevent the spread of infection
  • Most students will:
  • Understand why we should use soap to wash our hands
  • Understand that prevention of infection, where possible, is better than cure

Activities Include:

  • Main Activity:
  • Hand Shaking Experiment
  • Extension Activities:
  • Stomach Bug Chain of Infection
  • Hand Hygiene Quiz
  • Hand Washing Poster

Curriculum Links:

  • Science:
    • Working scientifically
    • Biology
    • Health and prevention
  • English:
    • Reading
    • Writing