Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

This lesson plan accompanies Virtual Labs: Testing for Corn Mold Mycotoxins, which is adaptable for grades 8-12. This interactive lab challenges students to use UV light to detect mold on corn, then test to see if it contains a toxin that could make people sick.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Lesson Plan Next Generation Science Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Use an online interactive tool to test for corn mold.


This lesson plan feature an interactive lab titled Testing for Corn Mold Mycotoxins, developed by our partner New Mexico State University (NMSU), The lab challenges students to examine a corn sample under black light to see if it glows. Then, they grind up the corn, prepare a solution, and use a test strip to determine whether aflatoxin is present. Students practice using a pipette, adding solvent to extract toxins, diluting a solution, and maintaining consistent procedures. In the process, they learn important science lab vocabulary.

To plan for the lesson, including how to make adaptations for various students' need, we recommend you preview the BrainPOP movie Food Safety, that is part of the lesson, and complete the interactive lab.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Play the Food Safety movie for the class.
  2. Talk with students about why it is important to test food for toxicity and how that process is completed. Explain that corn that is intended for consumption by humans or animals must be tested for the presence of the dangerous Aspergillus mold, which produces a toxin.
  3. Project the virtual lab Testing for Corn Mold Mycotoxins for the class to see. Have volunteers complete the first part of the interactive lab, as you help them make connections to prior learning and learn how to utilize the interactive.
  4. Provide 10-15 minutes for students to complete the interactive lab on their own devices. Alternatively, have students work with a partner.
  5. If possible, allow students to conduct a similar chemistry investigation in the science lab.

Extension Activities:

Have students explore other Virtual Labs games on GameUp!