Splendid Spores

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Science, Life Science

Grade 3- 5


Students conduct an experiment to learn about fungi.


Fundamental Facts
Black bread mold has a fuzzy, spider-web appearance. It is a type of parasitic fungi that lives on non-living organic matter. It begins as a microscopic, airborne spore that germinates on contact with any moist surface of nonliving organic matter. It spreads quickly, forming a fine network of filament clusters that obtain food by absorbing it directly from the organic matter it has attached itself to. When the sporangia (knob-like spore cases) ripen, they break open, and the spores float in the wind until they land and begin the reproduction cycle again. Fungi and bacteria can be found anywhere other life exists. They work together to decay and decompose all organic matter.
Prepare a bulletin board (away from bright light) to display the plastic bags. It should be located in a place that is easily accessible for student observations. If you do not have a board that is out of the direct light, staple a large piece of poster paper to the top of the board and let it hang loosely over the bags. The paper can be lifted for observations.
Find an open area outside, preferably out of the reach of animals, and roll out the foil. Give each student a slice of bread. Have the students place their bread slices on the foil and sprinkle them with a few drops of water. Leave the bread out overnight. The next day, have the students put each slice of bread in a plastic bag (be sure to label the bags with their names). Tightly seal the bags and staple them to the bulletin board. Make sure the students' names show. Provide magnifying glasses for observations and the journal records for writing about their observations.
Ask the students to hypothesize about the following questions:

  • Why was the bread dampened?
  • Why was the bread left outside overnight?
  • Why was the bread put into plastic bags?
  • Why was the bread placed in a darkened area?
  • What will happen to the bread?

Have the students complete the sequencing activity. Allow them to use magnifying glasses to observe the black mold growth. At the specific intervals suggested on the journal record, have them record their observations.


  • Splendid Spores activity pages (2 per student or group)
  • aluminum foil
  • white bread
  • quart-size (liter-size) resealable plastic bags labeled with students' names
  • magnifying glasses
  • scissors
  • glue
  • pencils
  • water

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