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The fungus among us: it's a bird, it's a plane, it's a mold spore!Featured science projectScience project video

Procedure

1) Choose five different types of food to test for their suitability as a surface for mold growth. Choose a variety of foods, such as 1-2 fruits, 1-2 vegetables, dairy and bread.

2) Place your chosen foods in plastic sandwich bags in order to retain the natural level of moisture of the chosen food. Find a safe spot in your home to leave the bags for the duration of the experiment, such as a cupboard or high shelf. Remember to keep your project away from little siblings and curious pets!

Note: Keep all the bags together. For this science project, we want growing conditions for all chosen foods to be the same. Light levels, moisture, and temperature in your chosen location will have an effect on mold growth and should be the same among all samples, so that the only variable is food/substrate type.

moldy food in plastic bags


3) If you have a camera, take a picture of the bags on day 1. Record any observations, such as bruising already present on the food.

4) Repeat # 3 for an entire week and use the provided data table to record your observations. If mold is present, use a rule or tape to measure the diameter (if it's circular), or its length and width. Use the metric system to measure if possible (centimeters, rather than inches).

If the growth is circular, use the area of a circle to calculate growth (Acircle=n*r2). If the growth is rectangular, use Arectangle=length*width and for a square use Asquare=side2. See attached table.

measuring the size of mold growth
 

5) In order to compare the suitability of each food type for mold growth, plot the mold area (Y) over time (X). Use the website Create-a-Graph if you do not have Microsoft Excel (http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createAgraph/default.aspx). To plot your data in Create-a-Graph, choose "line graph" on the design tab. To enter your data, click on the data tab. See the attached screenshots for an example of how to fill in the data labels and values. When finished, click on the preview tab to check that you entered your data correctly, then click on print and save to download the graph.

 

Day

  1  

  2  

  3  

  4  

  5  

  6  

  7  

Fruit 1

Mold color

             

Mold area

             

Fruit 2

Mold color

             

Mold area

             

Vegetable 1

Mold color

             

Mold area

             

Vegetable 2

Mold color

             

Mold area

             

Bread

Mold color

             

Mold area

             

Table 1. Mold growth data table.

mold growth over time

Graph 1: Example of graph created in Create-a-graph.

plotting mold growth datausing create-a-graph to tabulate and plot mold growth data

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    Complexity level:
    5
    Project cost ($):
    Time required:
    You will need time to set up your food samples, make daily observations of your food samples for one week, then graph and analyze your results.
    Material availability:
    The materials needed for this lab can be found at home.
    Safety concerns: