What you touch, what you don’t know


Graham staining

The AP College Biology class’s surprising discovery of bacteria around Northtown has opened many peoples’ eyes to our environment.
In late October, AP College Biology students studied prokaryotes, single celled organisms that do not have membrane-bound organelles, taught by Mrs. Helwig. To study these cells, they got into the surrounding environment.
The class of seniors and juniors investigated Northtown and the metro for bacteria. Students swabbed areas such as seats, door knobs, lake water, and gas pumps and let the bacteria grow on petri dishes in an incubator.
When the bacteria grew to a noticeable size, students ‘Graham stained’ the samples of bacteria using a type of Iodine dye for a lab grade.
This caused the samples to reflect bright purple or bright pink light for indication of cell walls under a microscope.
Graham’s positive shows harmless bacteria and Graham’s negative represents a potential pathogenic characteristic.
There were a wide range of discoveries throughout the campus and the metro.
Swab tests showed staphylococcus swarming in the fieldhouse bleachers, E. coli covering gas handles, creepy crawlers in the art basement, and spotless water fountains.
“It is fascinating and absolutely disgusting at the same time. Getting gas will never be the same. I definitely keep hand sanitizer in my car now,” said junior Alanna Cone, who tested for E. coli on gas handles at the local QuikTrip.
Senior Josephine Gicho said, “Participating in this lab was a great learning process for discovering bacterial environments and cell structures. I am more tedious and cautious about what I touch and what I handle on a regular day-by-day basis.”
Shocking bacteria such as staphylococcus was swabbed from Northtown’s own fieldhouse bleachers by senior Delaney Hall.
“Absolutely insane!” Hall said. “I never thought that such an awesome lab would yield such disgusting results.”