We just did this cool experiment at home. Our homeschooling crew is so awesome. I posted an experiment on the GrowMama facebook page. Friends saw it and ordered bulk large petrie dishes from a lab and put a call out on facebook to see who else wanted them. Someone else did the same with the tryptic soy agar (which is the stuff you culture the bacteria on). Boom, we were off. We are a bit feral on the handwashing thing compared to some folks but this experiment is a good visual support in explaining to the kids why we wash hands when we do. We washed our hands for each petrie dish and then did things like patted the dog etc and labelled them. Unfortunately our control dish got compromised but it was still fun to see them grow.
Some of those bacteria are so freaky looking. Some are beautiful. Some just plain freaky. Especially under the microscope.
Despite searching none of us came up with a good visual chart to identify all the different kinds of bacteria though. I am hoping some scientist friends can hook us up there.
Oh yes, one handy hint. Don't leave them out where there is even a remote chance puppies might be able to get at them. Don't ask!