Microbiology Quality Control Technician

Warning! Adult supervision required: liquids not for drinking

Please read the procedure before beginning! After reading, please watch the video. Some activities require more time and cleanup than others. You also have the choice of performing these activities in a way that suits your needs. 



  • Agar Plate
  • Sharpie
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Latex Free Gloves
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Thin Tape
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Activity Booklet



  1. Put on the provided gloves.
  2. This activity must be completed on a clean surface. Wipe down the workspace with the provided alcohol wipes.
  3. Use the tape to divide the lid of the agar plate into 4 sections.
  4. Choose 3 surfaces/materials to swab for bacteria (e.g. doorknobs, phone screens, aquarium water, etc.).
  5. Label 3 of the 4 sections with the chosen surfaces. One will be left blank.
  6. Use one of the swabs to swab the first surface. Press firmly and spin the swab to gather bacteria on the entire surface of the swab.
  7. Gently brush the swab on the agar in the agar plate in the section with the corresponding label. Do not press so hard that the agar is broken, but ensure that contact is made so the bacteria is transferred.
  8. Repeat steps 6-7 for the other two surfaces. Discard of each swab after use, and do not use the same swab to sample from more than one surface.
  9. After completing all 3 samples, place the lid back on the plate. and place it under a desk lamp or in front of a heater for 24-48 hours to grow the bacteria.
  10. While waiting for the bacteria to grow, complete the provided activity booklet.
  11. After the bacteria has grown, observe it with a magnifying glass, microscope, or other magnification tool! Which surface grew the most bacteria? Does all of the bacteria look the same?

Science Behind it!

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, which are tiny living things (micro means very small, and biology is the study of organisms or living things). There are many living things all around us that are too small for us to see. One type of microorganism is bacteria. Bacteria can be found almost anywhere and can be good (like bacteria that help us digest food) or bad (like bacteria that make us sick). Microbiology quality control technicians ensure that surfaces in labs and other environments are not contaminated with bad bacteria. One way to do this is by collecting small amounts of bacteria and growing cultures on Agar plates so bacteria can be more easily observed and identified.