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Moldy Oldies:
Science with Molds

Molds are tiny plant, so small that you need a microscope to see them clearly.  These tiny plants can sometimes help us or sometimes hurt us.  Since molds are actually tiny plants, think about the special environments that plants need to grow and how they grow better in some environments than in others. Find out which ones they prefer by watching mold grow.

3 cups
A little leftover coffee or leftover food
Your magnifying glass
A science journal or lab book

1. Put  a little leftover coffee or leftover food in each of the cups. 
2. Place one cup on a sunny windowsill
3. Place one cup in the refrigerator.
4. Place the last cup in a dark cupboard.
5. Look inside the cups every day for several days and write down what you see in your science journal or lab book.  You can use a magnifying glass to help you see things better. (Note:  It may take a few days for the mold to start growing.)

Here are some questions to answer as you watch your molds grow:

1. Does temperature affect the mold's growth? See if the cup left on the windowsill grows mold more slowly, more quickly, or at the same rate as the one in the refrigerator.
2. Does light affect the growth of the mold? Does the cup on the windowsill grow mold at the same rate as the one in a dark cupboard?

Loook around your house for other molds.   You might find these small plants in places like foods in your refrigerator, on bread, paint on the walls or in near windows where it gets damp, on fruit such as oranges, on house plants, or on tiles around the bathtub or shower.   Are the molds all the same color, or are they different?

You  can find molds in all sorts of unexpected places. Unlike green plants, they can't make their own food from sunlight. Instead, they live directly off of what they are growing on.   Molds can be a problem when they settle on food or our belongings. However, molds can also be useful.  Did you know that the green spots on old oranges are penicillin mold. This is what the medicine is made from.


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