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Toilet Seat Science

Posted by on January 11, 2012

Toilet Seat Science!


If you have to do a science fair project, you might as well make it fun, or at least gross.

Today I came across this blurb:

http://www.microbeworld.org/index.php?option=com_jlibrary&view=article&id=8097

So I used Google Scholar to find the original article:

E.L. Best, J.A.T. Sandoe, M.H. Wilcox (2011) Potential for aerosolization of Clostridium difficile after flushing toilets: the role of toilet lids in reducing environmental contamination risk; Journal of Hospital Infection, Volume 80, Issue 1, Page 1

During all of that scrambling, I thought about a great science fair project:

How does the type of toilet, affect the distance water droplets fly out?

Look at the question –

What is the independent variable?

(answer: type of toilet)

What is the dependent variable?

(answer: distance of water droplets)

Experiment: Find a bunch of different types of toilets, for example at fast food restaurants, the airport, rest stops, gas stations, etc. Take photos so you can put them on your board.

Figure out a way to measure the distance water droplets get sprayed. Play around with adding food coloring before flushing, try taking pictures with video/digital cameras, try putting down dry paper around the base of the toilet and/or walls of the stall, etc. Flush EACH type of toilet 3 times.

Variations
How does the position of the seat affect the distance sprayed?
How does the type of toilet affect the volume of water that leaves the toilet?

Any others???

3 Responses to Toilet Seat Science

  1. Joyce from MBC *will follow back*

    That made me laugh. My science project was to give some plants plant food and not to others. This one is more fun.

  2. duke Lipensky

    Many years ago I heard of a CA. University biology class that was assigned class project. They were required to go to a variety of places, public washrooms gas station washrooms private, etc. and gather swabs off the toilet seats.. These swabs were then tested to see what type of bacteria were present. Supposedly, there was hardly any difference between a home toilet seat and a more public one. Is this true?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      I am not familiar with the study, but the results would not surprise me. Public toilets that are cleaned on a regular basis (schools, restaurants, businesses, etc.) are surprisingly clean because of the chemicals the cleaning crew uses. Compare that to a home toilet, with a couple of teenage boys….

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