Students get a 'firsthand' lesson in hand washing

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The fourth-graders at Silver Hills Elementary School didn't realize they were getting a science lesson on preventing the spread of H1N1 virus Monday. They just wanted to see their germs.

The young students learned that even if you can answer "yes" to the question "did you wash your hands?" it may not be enough. The proof is under the blue light.

Diane Pope taught proper hand washing to the group students. She volunteers at several schools because she says too many children are sick.

"You need to wash your hands more often to get the germs off so you don't get the swine flu," fourth-grader Taylor Walred told KSL News.

Pope handed out a special gel to students to simulate germs then guided the children to a sink. After washing with water, the students literally saw germs in a whole new light -- ultraviolet.

The pretend germs glowed green and purple under the light, especially on the students' wrists, between their fingers and under their fingernails.

"You can tell them and tell them, but to see real germs that are on your hands is very effective; and with the swine flu, you know," said fourth-grade teacher Carolyn Dietrick.

Dietrick said, so far, her students have been fortunate: no swine flu in her classroom yet.

Fourth-grader Gaige Benson told us Monday's demonstration taught him that he needed "to wash the tips of [his] fingers and [his] wrists better."

"You wouldn't think about that until you actually saw it," Pope said. "And it's a fun way to teach science, 'cause they don't know they just had a science lesson."

They students also learned the concept of cause and effect.

"'Cause if you don't [wash] really good, then you can get sick and get the flu. And if you get sick and put your fingers in your mouth, other people can get sick," fourth-grader Taylor Vigil explained.

Pope said repeating the "Row Your Boat" song twice while washing your hands with soap and water gets rid of most germs, but the boss and co-workers may not appreciate if you sing aloud.


Story compiled with contributions from Carole Mikita and Becky Bruce.


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