This Classroom Experiment Proves Just How Fast Germs Can Spread2020-03-19
In order to demonstrate the importance of practicing good hygiene and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, YouTuber Mark Rober just conducted an experiment showing just how easily and quickly germs can spread in groups.
He used a powder called Glo Germ, which, like real life germs, is invisible and spreads from surface to surface through contact. Unlike germs, however, it can be seen under a blacklight, enabling Rober to track how it spreads through his day-long experiment in a classroom.
The teacher was doused with the invisible powder prior to the school day beginning, and shook hands with three of the children, but didn’t touch any of the rest. The class then went ahead as usual. At recess, Rober applied some of the Glo Germ powder to the hands of another child.
By lunchtime, after beginning with just one teacher and one student, the powder could be seen via blacklight all over the classroom, including on desks, equipment, and the teacher’s phone.
“Cleaning commonly touched surfaces is important, because even if a virus is spread through airborne transmission, those tiny droplets don’t stay in the air for long,” says Roper. “They land on surfaces, waiting to be touched by our hands.” Which is why, Roper reiterates, it is so important not to touch your face. “Your eyes, nose and mouth are like the single weak spot on the Death Star when it comes to viruses, that’s the only way they can get in to infect you.”
That’s easier said than done, however. Even while trying her best to heed the advice, at the end of the experiment, the teacher’s face was half covered in the invisible powder. Roper tried it himself, covering his hands in Glo Germ and then going about his day. “I resisted the urge to touch my face so many times, I expected to have a fully clean face and the moral high ground,” he says. “And then this is what I saw.”
“On average, we touch our face 16 times an hour, which is why washing our hands is so important,” he continues. “It’s impossible to catch a virus directly through your hands; it’s as futile as shooting at the outer surface of the Death Star. The problem is, we use our hands to help the virus out by constantly giving it a ride to our figurative Death Star exhaust ports.”
Rober conducted a second experiment in the classroom after lunch, in which he covered the students’ hands with lotion that appeared under blacklight, then asked them to clean it off, in order to test the thoroughness of their hand washing. The kids came back with plenty of the “germs” still on their hands.
Once again, Rober tried it himself, and found that washing his hands the usual way from memory (taking around 8 seconds) was inadequate, but that washing his hands deliberately for the full recommended 20 seconds made a huge difference.
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