I got sent the following link to have a look into for our KS4 and possibly STEM groups – Antimicrobial Properties of Spices – and it looks really interesting, although I am biased as Microbiology is my background. The journal article is very well laid out and planned, easily adaptable to use in a classroom setting or even for some at home science and the scientific explanations are not too difficult to get your head around. Some rice pudding and different spices… that’s all you really need and you’re off. You could use any spices that you want, powdered and out of date samples like the paper uses, too.
I then did a very quick google search and found this link – Ability of Curry and Cinnamon to Inhibit Bacterial Growth – and loved the even greater simplicity. This method would be perfect for our STEM sessions. I do prefer microbiology experiments to be performed on actual agar (I think it makes it safer for the students as they are consciously more aware that it’s bacteria they’re dealing with) and it can be regulated far easier. The Science Fair suggests using normal agar, dirty fingers and then cinnamon and curry oil to watch the bacterial growth. I wonder if it would work with direct contamination of a bacteria (like the E. coli we always have) and then either disks of different oils or a dilution range of oils or a plate for each oil. One of our Microbiology stock experiments is using different hand soaps on disks to see its effects on E. coli, how about adding in an oil? Or more food preservatives? This could be handy in a food storage unit.
Definitely one to try. Either version!