A Fungi Experiment To Help Increase Your Middle School Child's Interest In Science

It is important for U.S. students to excel in science to help them compete in the global market as future engineers, scientists, and doctors. A 2012 analysis by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rated the U.S. 20th out of 34 countries in science performance. It is important to help grow your child's interest in science at an early age so they can succeed later in their school career. You can help your child gain an increased interest in science and supplement their education by completing fun science activities with them at home. Here are instructions to help you complete a fun science activity with your middle school-aged child.

Learn about Fungi Growth

With this experiment, you can teach your child about the importance of fungi in our world and how it is responsible for decomposition. Fungi decomposition returns elements, such as nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen back to the ecosystem to be used in the bodies of new growing organisms. 

Explain to your child that fungi are not plants, do not have roots, stems, or leaves, and are not in the plant kingdom, but are plant-like and belong to the fungi kingdom. Plants' cells contain chlorophyll, which helps them make energy from photosynthesis to live. Fungi break down organic elements to produce their energy to live, so they do not need sunlight. With this experiment your child will be able to see how different types of fungi grow in a controlled environment, and watch how different types of foods are broken down during decomposition. 

Collect the Experiment Items

For this experiment, your child will need two empty disposable food containers, such as a plastic vegetable tray or cookie container. The lid of the container needs to be transparent so you can see the food items inside the container without removing it. As the fungi grow, the mold spores will build up inside the container and you may not want to release them into your home's air. Also, make sure your child selects containers that can be thrown away at the end of the experiment.

Next, your child will need to choose some food items to place inside the plastic container terrarium to provide organic matter for fungi to decompose and grow on. Be sure to select two of each food item; one for each plastic container. Avoid using any meat or egg items, because they will release gasses that will smell bad while they decompose. 

Some ideal food items to grow your fungi on can include breads, vegetables, and fruits. You can help your child get more of a variety of results in the fungi terrarium by using several different types of grain breads. For example, if your child uses white bread, wheat bread, and a donut in the terrarium, they will be able to compare different rates of fungi growth on each bread item. They can also use different fruits and vegetables in each terrarium container, such as a cucumber, tomato, celery, apple, and orange.

Assemble the Experiment

Place one of each food item in both plastic containers and secure the lid onto the container. Store one tray in a dark area of your home, and the store the other in a sunny area, but not in direct sunlight. A closet or pantry are both good places for the dark area. Be sure that the location for each terrarium will not get disturbed and jostled around, as this can damage the experiment. 

Have your child check the growth of any fungi on the food items each day for at least 12 days. This will allow time for the fungi growth to take place. Have your child record the fungi growth in a notebook, comparing the different types of food items, and the food items in the dark versus in the light environment. Have your child observe and record the different types and colors of fungi they see growing in the terrarium. You can also discuss with your child why they think some food items grew fungi earlier than others, and what difference the light and dark environments made on the experiment. 

Use this fun experiment to help your middle school child learn about fungi growth and help increase their interest in science. For more information, contact a school like http://www.cadets.com