Fungi Decomposer Lab 2016


     Decomposers are organisms, often a bacterium, mold, or fungus, that feeds on and breaks down dead plant or animal matter, thus making organic nutrients available to the ecosystem.  Fungi, for example, with the help of moisture make enzymes that decompose the decaying matter while feasting on the nutrients of that substance. This is why that most fungi are useful because without them, the biomass would be crowded with dead matter. The organisms of the fungal lineage include mushrooms, rusts, smuts, puffballs, truffles, morels, molds, and yeasts, as well as many less well-known organisms. More than 70,000 species of fungi have been described; however, some estimates of total numbers suggest that 1.5 million species may exist. Fungal spores are all around us all the time, floating in the air. When they land on food, they can eventually grow into a fungus, causing the food to decay or go moldy (mold is a type of fungi) especially in the presents of moister.  Spices (ie garlic, allspice, and cinnamon) can be effective antifungal agents in foods and that it may have just been coincidental that adding spices for taste helped with preventing illnesses. However, different concentrations or in combinations with other preservative systems or conditions, spices can help prevent microbial growth further.








Sliced Bread [must be “fresh” / white] (2 per group)

Sandwich Zip-Lock Bags (2 per group)

Spray Bottle(s) (water only)

Ground Cinnamon (fresh best)


Refrigerator / Incubator



Preparation: Part I




* The idea is to create a lab that someone else can “replicate”.

* Everything between the items being tested is to remain the “same”, “except” for what is being tested.

* Members in your group are to use the “template” provided to develop a draft of the lab.

* After having your template checked, create a “shared” document between you and your partner(s). 

* Lab is to have no pronouns (including “it”), to be entirely double spaced and using size 12 font.

* Note the suggestions and guidelines for each section of the lab; keep it professional (ie. grammar).


1.      Choose and write down one (1) of the following “Problem Question” conditions to test:


·         Does being in a wet (sprayed with water) or in a dry (not sprayed with water) environment make difference to fungal growth on bread?

·         Does being in a warm no light (incubator) or in a cool no light (refrigerator) environment make a difference to fungal growth on bread?

·         Does being in a lighted (class room) or in a darkened (store room / closet) environment make a difference to fungal growth on bread?

·         Does being in spice (cinnamon stick powder) or in a spice free (no cinnamon powder) environment make a difference in fungal growth on bread?

·         Does being in air (blown in with a straw) or in a no air (drawn out with a straw) environment make a difference to fungal growth on bread?


2.      Research creditable Background about the problem question on your own; nothing to write this time on this lab.


3.      State a proper “Hypothesis” based off your problem question and research (use If, then format).


4.      List the “Materials” that will be used (prioritize, quantity, detailed, metric)


5.      Provide the “Steps” that will be used (numbered, complete sentences, grammar, detailed, metric)



Procedure: Part II


6.      If not done yet, get “approval” by having the instructor review your template so far.


7.      Conduct the experiment based on your initial materials and steps.  Make note of any updates or changes to your materials and steps, then make those corrections on your shared document.


      Note: Unless you are doing dry vs wet, spray all bread equally with water amount of water. 


      Note: All bread is to go into a sandwich bag. The fungi spores that concentrate in the bags

                can be very dangerous. Do not open the bags at any time after you have been told to

                seal the bags permanently. They should be disposed of in the rubbish at the end of the

                investigation, sealed.


      Note: Return and clean up all materials used for your lab.  




Results and Conclusion:  Part III


8.   Provide a “Results” paragraph(s) of the lab findings:


·         Qualitative: Use descriptive and detailed explanations (complete sentences, no pronouns,

                     and proper grammar).

                     - Nothing about hypothesis, materials, steps, feels or opinions; just the facts


·         Quantitative: Use, number(s), percentage(s), fraction(s), etc to explain your findings.

                                   - Optional: If you make and use a graph/table/picture, cite the illustration

                                      here (ie See Figure) and place the graph/table/picture at the end of the

                                      lab (include a description with the graph/table/picture)


9.   Write a “Conclusion” paragraph for the lab:


·         What was your problem question?   


·         What was your hypothesis?  


·         Was the hypothesis proven or disproven?  If disproven, tell why? - ie Start off by writing… The hypothesis was …


·         What unforeseen event(s) happened? - ie Start off by writing… An unforeseen event      was …


·         What improvement(s) could have been made? - ie Start off by writing…  An improvement that could be made for this lab would be…


·         State a “springboard question” (followed by a question mark) - ie Similar to the problem question; what other similar study could be done?(Just a question; do not answer)


10.  * Review the “rubric” and the “requirements” for each section of the lab.

       * Share document as directed [partners first and last names and period as file name]; tbd

       * Peer Review: You may be asked to share your lab and results in class (tba)


Grade Boost Option


Provide a picture/illustration/graph/table neatly and professionally inserted at the end of the lab. Be sure to include a brief description below the picture/illustration/graph/table.







Fungi: Decomposer Lab Rubric


 Scientific Method












(No Background Required)

Did not select a problem question

Did select a problem question but not as stated/ required

Did select a problem question but not state the problem as a question (?)

Did select a problem question and stated the problem properly








Not testable and is in a question form

An educated  idea without much testability

A fair  and testable  guess and/ or not in a statement form

A specific statement that can be tested; “If_, then”






Procedure: Materials


No or very little materials given

No quantity

No metric                               

Not enough materials listed and little quantity of items given

Most materials listed and with quantity of items;

metric used

All materials listed, quantity; prioritized, metric; not numbered



Procedure: Steps


Not sequential, most steps are missing or are confusing

Some of the steps understandable; most are confusing

Most of the steps understandable; some lack detail or are confusing

Easy-to-follow steps; logical /de-tailed; complete sentences





No or very little data mentioned

Little to some data described and/or mentioned mathematically

Fair amount of qualitative as wells as quant- itative descript-tions mentioned

Very descriptive qualitatively and excellent explanations quantitatively  





0-2 out of 6 requirements

are properly mentioned

3-4 out of 6 requirements

are properly mentioned

5 out of 6 requirements

are properly mentioned

6 out of 6 requirements

are properly mentioned



Grammar and Spelling

Frequent errors, and or personal pronouns


More than two errors ;and/or personal pronouns or “its”

Only one or two errors;  align-ment, personal pronouns, “its”

Grammar and spelling are correct; no per-sonal pronouns or “its”



Organized and Clean


No organization


Area in lab not clean

Poorly organized and area not too clean. Did not stay on task.

Fairly organized; however, area was kept clean and neat

Well organized;  

Area clean and neatly taken care of





Total disregard and waste of class time for lab creation

Many delays in getting lab ready, gathering items, and being on task

Some delay in doing lab and getting materials, and being on task

Doing lab, get-ting materials, and performing lab. Stayed on task



General Professionalism




  Thoughtful and





  Thoughtful and





  Thoughtful and





  Thoughtful and