Brandon Haywood wasn't satisfied with what he saw after he washed his hands and stuck them under the "GlitterBug," an ultra-violet lamp meant to highlight any "germs" on his hands.
"I just washed my hands, and I still have thousands of germs!" the second-grader said.
He washed them again and returned.
"I hope I have no more germs," he said.
Brandon and his second-grade classmates at Yorkshire Elementary School got a refresher course in hand washing Tuesday from school nurse Chris Stipanovic.
Stipanovic typically offers the lessons around December and January, prime time for the flu and colds. While second-graders use the "GlitterBug" to test their hand-washing skills, and younger students learn through "Scrubby Bear," a program of the American Red Cross.
"At this early age, getting into the habit of good, clean hands can last a lifetime," Stipanovic said.
Principal Kim Stoltz said the school, in the York Suburban School District, hasn't seen a big rash of illnesses at this point. In addition to the hand-washing lessons, the custodians are good about keeping the school clean, she said, and there's hand sanitizer for students to use before lunch. Plus, everything's automated in the school's bathrooms, meaning there are fewer germy things for the kids to touch.
"It makes it a lot easier," she said.
During Tuesday's lesson, Stipanovic first talked to students about what germs are and how they spread.
"When you said germs are everywhere, there's even germs in the air?" asked student Zane Lightner.
Yes, Stipanovic said, that's why it's important to do things like cover coughs, to avoid spreading those germs in the air.
She reminded students of the proper steps for hand-washing, something she said she's sure they already know.
"Sometimes, we're kind of lazy, aren't we?" she said. Everyone might be tempted to skip the soap once in a while and just rinse and go, she said. But they should rinse, apply soap, then wash the front, back, between fingers and under fingernails where germs are hiding.
Soon, students were ready for the GlitterBug.
Students rubbed a lotion -- the "germs" -- onto their hands and then looked at them through GlitterBug, an ultra-violet lamp that highlighted their germs. Then they washed their hands and returned to GlitterBug to see how they did.
Student Gaven Barshinger said it was cool to see all the germs.
Classmate Matthew Berg said he was working hard to keep his hands clean. But still, he said, they keep getting germs on them.
"It's kind of hard to keep (them) clean all the time," Gaven added.
The American Red Cross offers tips for hand-washing on its website, in a section on how schools can help prevent the flu.
Their hand-washing tips are:
--- Wet hands with water and apply an amount of soap recommended by the manufacturer to hands.
--- Rub hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands and giving added attention to fingernails and surfaces where jewelry is worn.
--- Rinse hands with water.
--- Dry thoroughly with a disposable towel.
--- Use towel to turn off faucet.
For kids who rush hand-washing, have them sing a song like "Row, row, row your boat" or "Happy Birthday," the site says.
Learn more at www.redcross.org.