Ever wonder what to do with leftover pumpkin? How about turning it into a science project? Petri dishes are often used by scientists to study the growth of organisms such as bacteria and mold over a period of time. In this experiment, your pumpkin will act as the petri dishes. All you need is some leftover pumpkin, household items, and a couple of places around the house to perform this experiment. This activity focuses on making predictions, collecting and recording data. (Adult supervision recommended.)
What You Need:
- 1 pumpkin (or part of it)
- Ziplock bags
- Marker (to write on bags)
- Data sheet or paper
What You Do:
- Cut a pumpkin into pieces that will fit inside the ziplock bags, placing one piece of pumpkin in a bag. The size of these pieces of pumpkin is not important; just make sure they fit in the bags and the pieces are fairly uniform in size.
- Close the ziplock bags most of the way (the environment needs to be moist, yet fresh air needs to enter.)
- Place the bags in various areas around the house such as the refrigerator, a sunny area, a shady area, a warm area, a dry area, a moist area, etc. (You may want to label each bag with its location)
- After choosing the locations for your pumpkin petri dishes, predict which pumpkin will grow the most mold during the course of the experiment.
- Each day, look at all your pumpkin samples and record how much mold has grown on each piece.
- Print out and use the charts below to record your pumpkin petri dish data.
- When did the mold start to grow on pumpkin section 1? Pumpkin section 2? etc…
- How would you compare the growth of mold on pumpkin section 1 to that of pumpkin section 2?
- How is temperature/time related to the growth of the mold?
- What could be done to minimize the growth of mold?
- What could be done to maximize the growth of mold?
- How would you apply what you learned to where we should keep our food?
- How would you adapt this experiment to create a different experiment?