Our microbiota can protect us from germs by training our immune system and by colonization resistance): the characteristic of the intestinal microbiota to block colonization of pathogens.

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When you don't have the opportunity to wash your hands after touching questionable surfaces, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Limit the touching of your hands to your mouth, nose and eyes.

Collectively with yeast and viruses, they are called our microbiota.

A plethora of exciting research suggests that the associations of animal hosts with their microbiota are not rare occurrences but in fact are fundamentally important for the host's biology.

'My experiment lacked obvious control groups and ultimately asked the wrong question.

Instead of asking which brand of soap was the most 'effective' and classifying all bacteria as germs, I should have been investigating how to prevent the growth and spread of specific disease-causing bacteria, or pathogens. You can't tell by eye which bacteria growing within a petri dish are the 'good guys' versus ones that cause disease, and some pathogenic microbes, like viruses, can't be detected within agar petri dishes.I would be remiss to not mention that the bacteria that live on or within us are essential for us as hosts, especially considering their role in protecting us from pathogens.We live in a microbial world: Trillions of different bacteria colonize our skin, gut, and orifices.Poor diet, lack of sleep, stress and antibiotic use can negatively perturb our microbiota communities, which in turn can put us at risk for diseases .In fact, it is becoming clear that our microbiota are active participants in preventing and sometimes driving disease, depending on the state of the microbial communities . There is no doubt that washing our hands with liquid soap and water is effective in reducing the spread of infectious microorganisms, including those that are resistant to antimicrobial agents.For my fourth-grade science fair project, I tested different soaps to see which ones were the most effective at keeping my hands clean.