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Yucky Hands

Are we using the best methods to prevent the spread of potential killers like MRSA, C. diff and swine flu? Have you ever wondered if disinfectants and antiseptics are really necessary at home?

CREST Yucky Hands 

This project idea is suitable for all CREST NZ levels. It could have a Health, Social Science, Science and/or Technology focus.

Soap solution?

In the medieval world, pandemics were a common occurence. Improved modern standards of hygiene have helped to bring these diseases under control. The widespread use of soap for washing hands, clothes and surfaces contributes to this daily battle.

With the appearance of MRSA, C. diff and swine flu, the importance of effective hand washing practices is now at the forefront of health messaging. Hospitals encourage visitors to use alcohol hand gels and people buy them for personal use. Yet many people still believe that hand washing isn’t important.

  • Are we using the best methods to prevent the spread of potential killers like MRSA, C. diff and swine flu?
  • Have you ever wondered if disinfectants and antiseptics are really necessary at home?

Students might like to imagine themselves in a situation such as …

Gran says that all you need to keep clean and healthy is a bar of soap and hot water. You can use them to wash your hands and to clean your clothes and your home. You can even use them to clean up wounds. You wonder why there are other cleaning products on the market, so you decide to research information to:

  • Find out why hand washing is an important part of the daily routine;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of using other cleaning methods for infection control; or
  • Decide if disinfectants and antiseptics have a place in the home.

Some things to think about …

  • How hand washing helps to prevent the spread of disease;
  • Whether soap is effective for cleaning hands;
  • What other cleaning can be done in the home to help prevent disease;
  • Why MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and C. diff (Clostridium difficile) are so difficult to control; or 
  • The cleaning products you would recommend for every home, to prevent disease.
  • Building a model of a hand washing device, and producing education materials suitable for primary school children in a developing country.

(With grateful thanks to the CREST Team at the British Science Association and their Squeaky clean research project)

Some links to resources