Growing mold on different kinds of fruit and then analyzing the results is a popular science-fair subject for students in the second and third grades. Mold, a type of fungus, releases microscopic airborne spores that latch on to organic substances like fruit, resulting in a "mold garden" as the fruit spoils. Warmth and moisture contribute to mold reproduction. Creating conditions conducive to mold growth on fruit in a controlled environment teaches children about fungi and increases observational and analytic skills.
- Four pieces of different fresh fruit, such as lemon, orange, kiwi or apple
- Four large plastic zipper-top bags
- Digital camera (optional)
- Latex gloves
Take pictures of the four fruits at the end of the experiment to document your observations. Include the photos with your report.
Avoid breathing in mold spores. If you have to handle a moldy piece of fruit, always wear latex gloves.
Sprinkle each piece of fruit with water. Place one type of fruit in each of the four zipper-top bags and seal tightly. Put each bag in a warm, dark place.
Form your hypothesis. Will mold grow? Why or why not? Will the fruits have the same type of mold? What type of mold will appear?
Observe the four fruits daily for signs of mold growth. You may start to see mold colonies of different colors, textures and sizes forming on the different fruits. Write down your discoveries in a notebook and date each observation.
Conclude the experiment at the end of a one-week period.
Write a report explaining your conclusions. Answer the following questions: Did mold appear? When? What color and texture were the different colonies? Did some fruits only have certain types of mold? What caused mold to grow?
Discard the fruits and bags without opening them. Releasing the fruit could cause mold spores to become airborne, which can trigger asthma or allergies in some people.
Things You'll Need
- fruit image by dinostock from Fotolia.com