In order to create a mold terrarium I would need container that is clear, has a lid, and can be thrown away after the experiment is over. Water and adhesive tape are also necessary to complete this experiment. Some leftover food is the final ingredient needed and can be brought from home by the students. The food should vary, but fish, poultry, and meat should not be used because they will start to smell badly.
In order to be safe make sure to let students know that the terrarium should not be opened. The entire project must be thrown away after the experiment is over. It is important to let the students know that it is bad for people to breathe in mold, and it may make students sick. It is important to stress that the jar not be opened. It is also important to emphasize that the lid will be taped so that it cannot be opened. The jar should also be placed in a safe spot where it will not get broken.
In order to complete this experiment; students must bring in pieces of food from their homes. All of the food items should be cut into 1-inch pieces, unless they are already smaller than an inch. If you are using a jar lay it on its side so there is more surface area to cover with food. Take the food pieces and dip them in water. Next lay them in the glass jar so that they are close to each other, but not touching. Close the lid on the container and tape it shut. Label your mold terrarium and put a sign on it that says do not open. Students can check the mold terrarium everyday for about 2 weeks, and they will see the various changes in the food. They will see how mold grows, and how food decomposes.
In order to monitor student performance, I can have them keep a journal about their thoughts on the mold terrarium. Through this journal I can observe if the student has accurately observed the concept, if the student has theorized about the cause and effect of this experiment, and I can judge if the student is trying to collect data on this assignment. I can also have the student make a drawing of one piece of food in the terrarium every couple of days in order to help visualize the concept of how mold grows. These ideas will not only help reflect the student's performance, but they will create opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning as well.
In order to assess this lesson I will question whether or not the students enjoyed the lesson and participated in it. I will also assess whether or not students seemed to grasp the concept of this lesson, and whether or not the experiment helped. I will also assess the use of journals, and have the students do oral presentations in order to see what they have learned. I will also assess whether or not all of my safety precautions were enough or not.
This project is fun for children, and it is hands on so I think it will help to get students involved. It presents cross-disciplinary opportunities and allows for students to watch how something grows. Overall I think a mold terrarium is an interesting and fun science project that has much learning potential.
written by Sarah Ganly