October 17, 2013
Farm And Germ Education Go Hand In Hand
Teaching children about germs may reduce harmful microbial infection, spread from farm visit
School children demonstrated significantly increased knowledge of germ spread and prevention on a farm after working on an interactive lesson about microbes. Published October 16, 2013, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Meredith K. D. Hawking and colleagues from Public Health England, these results show the measurable benefits of education in increasing children's knowledge about the risk of infection during school farm visits, and the spread of harmful germs.
Results showed a significant improvement in farm hygiene and microbiology knowledge after the lesson, especially with respect to statements about microbe awareness on the farm, and about preventative measures for reducing the spread of microbes. In the 'introduction to microbes' section, the overall post-lesson scores were significantly greater than pre-lesson scores for girls, showing a 21% increase in knowledge, as well as boys, with a 14% increase. In the 'farm hygiene' section, the girls increased their knowledge 18% and boys 11%. There was a ~13% total increase in knowledge of hand-to-mouth behavior, such as 'it is ok to eat your sweets while walking around the farm.' In general, post-lesson knowledge levels were similar between boys and girls, at 80% and 83%, respectively, although girls had lower pre-intervention knowledge about microbes and farm hygiene when compared to boys. Hawking adds, "Our study showed that the e-Bug farm hygiene lesson plan was an effective way to teach children what they can do to stay healthy on a farm visit. It is important that children know how to protect themselves by washing their hands and avoiding hand to mouth behaviors, to ensure they can enjoy the experience without being at increased risk of becoming unwell."
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