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Spreading Bugs Activities

Three examples of activities which can be used with groups to discuss how germs spread.
So this is going to be the snot gun demonstration. It’s one of our most popular e-Bug activities. And it’s really demonstrating how important it is to catch our coughs and sneezes when you’ve got a cold, and not spread those infections and microbes around. So before we start, can anyone tell me how fast do you think a sneeze travels?
60K miles an hour. 30 miles an hour. 30 miles an hour? Any more guesses at all?
100 miles an hour. Hmm? 100 miles an hour? 100 miles an hour, yeah. So that’s exactly how far it travels. It travels 100 miles an hour. So it’s very fast. And can anyone tell me how far you think a sneeze travels? 2 metres? Spot on, about 2 metres. So yeah, very fast, very far. So you can say this could be a child, a boy or girl, at the back of a school bus. So if they’re sneezing and not covering their sneeze, it could be hitting the back of the head of the bus driver, spreading the infection everywhere. So I’m going to hand out some Post-its. So if you want to, if you want to put your name on there.
And we’re going to– if you want to place your name and the Post-it where you think the sneeze might land. All right. So we’ve placed your guesses. So now we’re going to recreate a giant sneeze at the count of three– 3, 2, 1, achoo. Wow. So we ended up quite far. So let’s see who’s been infected.
So it looks like it just missed Alison. So you’re safe. It did get Syd, though. And those two are friends. So Syd could easily pass his infection when he shakes Alison’s hand. Paul is going to get it, Susan. Mercedes was– Regina, Maureen. So nobody is safe here, all the way up to the back.
So we’ve seen how far infection spreads, when you’re going to sneeze and you’re not covering your mouth. So this time, we’re going to see how far a sneeze travels when you’re covering your mouth. 3, 2, 1, ooh!
[LAUGHTER] So now we’ve seen how far it travels. It didn’t travel as far as the 2 or 3 metres, as before. But it is all over you. It is– Kathleen. Kathleen? Yeah. It is all over Kathleen’s hands. If she were to shake hands with me and pass on those infections, if I were to ring the bell on the school bus, we’d be spreading infection everywhere. I might wipe it on my clothes, the door handles, everything. It’s not the best way to catch a sneeze. It’s probably not the worst, worst way, either. I mean, the worst thing would be to just sneeze without covering it at all. Then people do say use your sleeve, if you’ve not got anything.
But what’s actually the best way we can catch our sneezes?
Handkerchief. Take off, please. Thank you. Can I have another volunteer, please?
This time, I’ve got some tissue. And you’re well prepared to catch a sneeze.
I’ll give you extra.
Count to three, then. 3, 2, 1. See, you’ve caught the sneeze in the tissue, if you want to show everyone. [LAUGHTER] Nice and green, sloppy snot. And it’s not on your hands. It’s not on my hands. Great. And you can catch it, kill it. bin it.

e-Bug was developed for use in schools pre-COVID-19 and so some activities may require modification based on your school’s distancing guidelines. Please use your judgement and tell us how you have modified the activities, or if you would like to discuss some ideas, contact

Respiratory hygiene activity

Suitable for KS1, KS2, KS3, and community groups.

Please watch the video above for a full demonstration of this activity.

This activity has been popular in several different situations including school assemblies, science shows and festivals, even at a flu vaccination launch event for public health professionals! It demonstrates the best way to keep coughs and sneezes from spreading microbes.

A summary of instructions for both school and community groups can be found here. You will also find a link in the downloads section below.

Photo of the respiratory hygiene activity being carried out

Horrid Hands (10-15 mins)

Suitable for KS1, KS2, and community groups.

This activity involves the use of UV gel and a torch to demonstrate the spread of microbes through our hands. The invisible UV gel represents “pretend microbes”, whilst the torch represents a “microbe detector”, as the gel can only be seen under the UV light.

A summary of instructions for both school and community groups can be found here. You will also find a link in the downloads section below.

Photo of hands and hands with UV light shining on them

Soap, Water, and Pepper experiment (10 mins)

Suitable for KS1, KS2, and community groups.

This activity involves the use of a hand soap dispenser, pepper, and water to demonstrate why we need to use soap to wash our hands and why water alone is not as effective.

A summary of instructions for both school and community groups can be found here. You will also find a link in the downloads section below.

Photo of the soap water pepper experiment being carried out by children

If you are supporting home-learning or working with small groups of children, we have additional activities on microbes and the spread of infection in our newly launched Antibiotic Guardian Youth Badge Leader and Volunteer Activity Pack. Click here to access this resource.

Have you carried out any activities which are similar to these?

Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

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e-Bug Health Educator Training

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