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Lets Glow!

This year for our science fair project we decided to work with bioluminescent bacteria. We heard of bioluminescent bacteria through our science teacher. From there we decided to investigate. Bioluminescence is the giving off of light by an organism without heat. We read that bioluminescent bacteria are being used to diagnose the amount of pollution in water.

We believe that the pollutants will decrease the amount of light bioluminescent bacteria produce because through our investigations we have discovered that they produce less light when introduced to pollutants. We used:

  1. Bioluminescent bacteria
  2. Metal transferring loop
  3. Hudson River water
  4. Tap water
  5. Hair gel
  6. 3 in 1 oil
  7. Bunsen burner
  8. Sparker
  9. Rubbing alcohol
  10. Napkin
  11. Pen/pencil
  12. Paper
  13. Test tubes
  14. Goggles
  15. dropper

To transfer the bacteria: First, we clean the area where we were to work in with rubbing alcohol. We turn on the Bunsen burner with a sparker. We sterilize the metal transferring loop with which we are to transfer the bacteria from the dish to the tube. After the loop glows bright red, meaning it is sterilized, we cool it down on agar, nutrient food for bacteria, where there is no bacteria. Afterwards, we scrape off enough bacteria from the dish with the loop and move it over to the test tube. Before placing the bacteria in the tube, we have to sterilize the opening of the tube by placing it over fire for a couple of seconds. After we transfer the bacteria, we place them in the dark. We have to transfer the bacteria every 2 days or else it will die.

To insert pollutants: We go into a dark room to check if the bacteria are glowing. If it is, we observe how many sheets of blank paper it takes to block out the light produced by the bacteria. Next, we insert the pollutant and examine if the pollutant has decreased the amount of light the bacteria gave off by seeing how many blank sheets of paper it takes to block out the light.

 

 

Pollutant

What Happened

Tube # 1

Hair Gel

Before, it took 4 sheets of paper to block out the light. After it met the hair gel, it took 1 sheet of paper to block the light out.

Tube #2

3 in 1 oil

Before, it took 3 sheets of paper to block out the light. After it met the oil, it still took 3 sheets of paper to block out the light.

Tube #3

Tap water

Before, it took 5 sheets of paper to block out the light. Afterwards, when contacted with tap water, it took 4 sheets of paper to block out the light.

Tube #4

Hudson River water

Before, it took 5 sheets of paper to block out the light and afterwards it took 4 sheets.

We tested how many sheets of paper it takes to block out the light of the bioluminescent bacteria before and after the drop of pollutants were placed in the tube.

In test tube number one, before the pollutant was arranged in to the tube, it took 4 sheets of blank paper to block out the light. After the bacteria in test tube #1 met the hair gel, it took only one sheet of paper to block out the light. This means that the light decreased by 75%.

In test tube number 2, it took 3 sheets of paper to block out the light before the drops were placed in the tube. After the bacteria met the 3 in 1 oil, the number of sheets of paper it took to block out the light stayed the same; meaning that the bacteria’s encounter with the oil did not increase or decrease it light production.

In test tube #3, it took 5 sheets of paper to block out the light the bacteria produced. However, after a drop of tap water was placed in the tube, it took 4 sheets of paper to cover up the light. The percent of decrease was 20%.

Test tube #4’s percent of decrease was much similar to the percent of decrease of test tube #3. This is so because it took 5 sheets of paper to block out the light the bacteria made. Afterwards, when one drop of Hudson River water was placed in to the tube, it took 4 sheets of paper to cover up the light. The percent of decrease was also 20%.

Discussion:

Our hypothesis was proven correct and at the same time proven wrong. We thought that the pollutants were to decrease the amount of light produced by bacteria because we knew that pollutants have affected the ocean in which these bacteria live in. We also know that these pollutants have harmed other marine organisms. In the test tubes, there was a bioluminescent bacterium whose light was decreased because of the four pollutants we used. However in one of the tubes, the light did not decrease or increase. The results prove so. We used four test tubes in which bacterium was living in with its nutrient food, agar. The four pollutants used were 3 in 1 oil, Hudson River water, tap water, and hair gel. The Hudson River water, tap water, and hair gel decreased the amount of light the bacteria produced; nevertheless, the 3 in 1 oil did not. We think this is so because bacterium is used to the ocean’s conditions of being polluted. The Hudson River water and the tap water probably did affect it because the bacterium’s environment is salty, and not ‘sweet’ as in the river and tap water. There are also many other forms of bacteria in these waters so they probably could have been an element of the decrease. If we were to make this project much better, we would use pollutants or polluted liquids that harm humans such as poisons. We would observe if these poisons would harm bacteria as well as humans. We could also use hair products or different medicines. We could use oils from fish and water from different places such as the sewer.

We wanted to work in a project where we could observe a life form, in this case, bioluminescent bacteria. We wanted to work with chemicals or liquids as well. To add a twist, we would see how many sheets of paper it takes to block out the light from the bacteria before and after the drops of chemicals were placed in the test tubes. So we decided to combine the three ideas into one. We came up with the question of what would happen if different liquids were placed together with bacteria.

We brainstormed for different liquids/chemicals and we came up with hair gel, tap water, water from the Hudson River, and 3 in 1 oil, which is used in everyday purposes in the homes, mainly for fixing creaky doors. We got the bacteria that we were to use, called vibrio fischeri, and the special tools we were to need from a special science supplier lab. The bacteria came in a petri dish and from this dish were to transfer the bacteria into a test tube because if we did not, they would die. After the transfers were completed, we tested out the liquids and chemicals on the bacteria.

In the first test tube, it took 4 sheets of paper to block out the light before and 1 after the bacteria met the hair gel. The percent of decrease was 75%. In the second test tube, where the bacteria met the 3 in 1 oil, it took 3 sheets of paper before and after the drops were in the tube, meaning the amount of light did not increase or decrease. In test tube #3, it took 5 sheets of paper to block out the light before and 4 after when the drop of tap water was placed in the tube. The light decreased by 20%. Finally, in test tube #4, it took 5 sheets of paper to block out the light before and 4 after when 1 drop of Hudson River water. The percent of decrease was 20%

 

 




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