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Power Washers™ Help Teachers Promote Hand Hygiene

by Hana Ibrahim, Intern, John Carroll University, Civic Education
3/10/2017 5:53:19 PM

The influenza virus is striking schools across the country this flu season, forcing several to close their doors. Here in Northeast Ohio, teachers are calling on a band of hygiene superheroes to help keep their students healthy.
“Power Washers™ helped my students understand the importance of hand washing,” says Anita Giusto, a third grade teacher at Andrew J Rickoff School in Cleveland, “and they made the learning fun.”
Water Woman, Super Soap, and Touchy Towel – the hygiene superheroes known collectively as Power Washers™ – were developed for Cleveland Clinic’s Civic Education Department by 2008 Creative Learning Intern and Beachwood High School student Gabriel Firestone. The characters star in a series of online educational resources, including a Webby Award-winning music video in which the heroes battle the likes of Evil E. Coli, Mr. Mycosis, and Sally Salmonella, and a video game in which they help players virtually wash their hands.
“The children loved playing the Power Washers™ game,” says Giusto. “They especially loved moving the magnifying glass over the hands to see the germs and to hear the characters say, ‘EEEEEWWWWWW!!!!’”
Giusto’s third graders applied what they learned from both the game and video and put their creativity to the test, developing acrostic poems about the Power Washers™ team. For Water Women, students came up with creative phrases such as We like to be clean; Eat hot dogs, but before you eat, wash your hands; and No more germs! The students produced some great poems, and according to Giusto, “They loved describing a character through the letters of his or her name.”
Karen Straub, art teacher at Gesu Catholic School in University Heights, also enlisted the help of the Power Washers™, calling on the germ-fighting trio to assist in teaching her students in pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade about the importance of hand washing.
“The Power Washers™ program engages students right from the start of the video,” Straub says, adding, “The bios and the game help enforce the concept of hand cleanliness.”
In the art room, Straub’s students brought the hygiene superheroes to life by creating their very own Power Washers™ puppets. “Students based their puppets on one character,” Straub says, “and were then able to use their puppets to say the lines as the video played.”
Water Woman, Super Soap, and Touchy Towel may have their own theme song and video game, but they aren’t the only heroes when it comes to promoting hand hygiene this flu season. Teachers like Giusto and Straub are finding fun, creative ways to help keep their students healthy and their classrooms open. And that is nothing short of super.