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as of 01/03/09
To Grow or Not to Grow

What liquid - Water, Sprite, or Diet Coke - will make bread mold grow the fastest?


INTRODUCTION:
For my science project, I decided to try and grow mold on bread using different
liquids to see if one would help grow mold faster.

The liquids, water, Sprite, and Diet Coke, I wanted to try were diverse on purpose. 
Water was the control group. Sprite has no caffeine, only sugar, and Diet Coke has caffeine,
 no sugar.  Caffeine and sugar are both supposed to make you hyper.  Sugar boosts your
energy and then rids you of that energy (a 'sugar rush'). I've never really noticed these
effects on myself, but that's what I am told by adults.

I want to see if the mold will react like the adults say we react.

I wanted to grow mold because I hadn't ever really seen or been around mold. I wanted to 
see what it was like. Also, I wanted to try something new, something I hadn't really done
 before.


According to wikipedia: Molds are single-celled organisms that group together to form networks of mold. 
These colonies act as one organism and release spores that travel in the air to reproduce
 and form more colonies. Molds can survive very harsh conditions such as sub-zero temperatures, 
extreme heat, and acidic liquids. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_mold

According to Madsci.org:  Molds eat by squirting liquids into the food and growing hyphae,
or roots, into  the partly-digested food to consume it. Reference: http://www.madsci.org/FAQs/micro/molds.html




HYPOTHESIS-  If mold is grown with Diet Coke, then it will grow the fastest.


My hypothesis was that Diet Coke would make mold grow the fastest. A supporting example
 is that in a science experiment performed by Coach Barton's class, several drinks were
 used as a substitute for water for three plants. The plant being fed Monster Energy Drink
 grew the largest at an incredible rate. I guessed that Diet Coke would perform in a similar
 fashion because Monster Energy drink has alot of caffeine and so does Diet Coke.

 I hypothesized that Diet Coke would do the best, and sprite would do better than water.
 But water and Diet Coke ae doing great, and Sprite is doing poorly. Could it be molds 
don't eat sugar?



SETUP:
 
First, I grew some mold in a bread bag. To do this I left some pieces of bread in the
bread bag they came in. I put a twist tie on the bag and let it sit around my room.
Nothing grew for weeks, so I placed 1/8 cup of water in it and placed it back on the
shelf in my room. A few days later fuzzy green mold grew to about the size of a half-dollar.


ROUND ONE:
The first time I tried, I used square aluminum pie-plates to hold the bread and mold.
 Then I poured half a teaspoon of each liquid (diet coke, sprite, and water)
on each piece of bread.  
I labeled them, and placed them in my closet, because molds like dark,
 humid places (it seems like places that are wet and dark grow things).
I checked them almost everyday, but the bread
 dried out quickly. Only the bread mold with water grew, and it formed a shape much
different than the starter mold or mold I looked at in photos - it grew to the size of
 one's thumb and looked like a splat.

I think putting them in large non-airtight containers was not a good idea. 
The air got in and made the bread stale. I don't think I put enough liquid on each one.
I guess my closet wasn't very humid.



ROUND TWO:

 So I reworked the experiment. I regrew the starter mold (this mold did not grow as large
 as the other starter mold, and it grew in two tufts, both quite small).

I cut out the same size pieces as always and placed them on the bread. I placed the bread 
pieces (after pouring a full teaspoon of liquid on each one) in the plastic bags and placed 
those on paper plates with twist-ties on the plastic bags to preserve the wetness and mold'
  I then put those at the back of my closet like the last ones.

This round worked much better than the other.




This round worked much better than the other. I think adding more liquid helped
 humidify the mold, as my closet was almost completely dry.
The mold grew with fantastic colors and sizes. Diet coke had a large wristwatch-sized
tuft growing in the middle (could be the starter mold). it had an eyeball-sized yellow 
tuft growing off to the side, with penny-sized white and green tufts growing off of that. 
on the edge of the bread were two small black tufts growing off the yellow one. 
A couple small green tufts were also growing on the edges.
The water mold grew very large too, just not as colorful.


CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE LIQUIDS:

Looking at the ingredients in Diet Coke: Carbonated water, caramel color, asparatame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate,
 natural flavors, citric acid, and caffeine.

Looking at the ingredients in Sprite: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium
 citrate, and sodium benzoate.

Both Diet Coke and Sprite have: carbonated water, natural flavors, and citric acid.
It appears my theory was correct. It seems that Diet Coke has caffeine, while Sprite has
 sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. I believe it is the caffeine which allows
 the molds to grow so large, and the corn syrup which molds don't like.



I was positive the caffeine in the Diet
 Coke was making the mold grow, but perhaps other tests will turn up negative.

what about in comparison to round one where water -- with no
caffeine and no sugar made the mold grow best?  what do you think about that?


I believed Diet Coke had similar effects to Monster energy drink. 

Looking at the ingredients in  Monster Energy: carbonated water, sucrose, glucose, citric acid, natural flavors, taurine,
 sodium citrate, color added, panax ginseng root extract, l-camatine, caffeine, ascorbic acid,
 sorbic acid, benzoic acid, niacinamide acid, sodium chloride, glucuronolactone,
 inositol guarana seed extract, pyridoxine hydrochloride, sucralose, riboflavin, maltodextrin,
 and cyanocobalamin.

it would appear that caffeine is present in Monster Energy too, but there are countless other
 ingredients that would need to be tested to truly see if caffeine is what's making the
 mold grow. for now i conclude only that Monster
 had similar effects on plants as Diet coke on mold.



if you were to do the experiment again and try to narrow down whether
caffeine really is the magic ingredient, what would you do???



CONCLUSIONS ABOUT BREAD MOLD:



I am learning alot about mold from this experiment, like how mold is more delicate
 than it seems, or that it takes longer to grow than most people think. So far, this has been
 a successful and fun experiment.


I like growing mold. There are so many interesting kinds of mold in fascinating colors. I quite enjoy doing this experiment.

Nov 20, 2008


water

Dec 8, 2008: New Mold grown and ready to use!




Dec 31, 2008: results


water

sprite

diet coke

diet coke