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Some microorganisms can be classified by the substances they grow on, their colors, or the conditions under which they grow best. Research to identify each type in reference books.

Molds are classified by three basic shapes -- rodlike (bacilli), spherical (cocci), and spiral (pirilla).

Culture some white-bread mold. After a week, you will see a variety of molds growing on the bread. Count the different colors. Each color is a different colony of mold.

Black mold is a common variety that can be examined with a hand lens. It is called rhizopus ("RIZE-oh-puss"). The small round balls you see on the end of the slender stalks are cases containing spores. When the cases ripen, they release the spores* into the air, and some fall upon the bread to form new mold. You can open the cases and examine the spores in the microscope.

Roquefort, blue, and Gorgonzola cheeses grow penicillium molds. These can be removed from the cheeses with a fine needle and placed on a microscope slide. Their structures can be seen under a microscope.

* Spores can be very dangerous to people with respiratory diseases. Some refrigerators have trays underneath them. The condensation from the fridge is funneled down into those trays and the liquid evaporates. That leaves mold and spores that we shouldn't have in our houses.

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