The Human Zoo
In this set of explorations, students are acquainted with the work of scientists who discovered microorganisms, pathogens, and antibiotics.
The purpose of this set of explorations is to acquaint students with the science of epidemiology and provide an introduction to microorganisms and microbiology. Students in this first lesson retrace the data generated by Dr. Snow in 1854 London to deduce the origin of a cholera outbreak. Using a simulation, students see how “germs” travel from person to person, spreading disease. Finally, in order to “see” germs, bread samples are swiped on various surfaces and allowed to “grow” to check for the presence of living organisms.
The purpose of this section is to acquaint students with observing the world of microbes using basic materials. Students use a hand lens to observe common materials and to describe the details of magnified objects. Students re-create a Leeuwenhoek microscope and observe a variety of materials.
The purpose of these lessons is to examine a common microbe and to explore its biology and physiology. Yeasts have been cultured by humans since ancient times and proved a safe and interesting way to study microbes. Students make bread to experience the practical applications of yeast firsthand, grow yeasts in a liquid medium to examine how they digest sugar to grow and produce byproducts, and examine yeasts under the Leeuwenhoek or standards microscope.
The purpose of this set of explorations is to discover how bacteria affect their environments. Students make yogurt by inoculating milk with an active culture of Lactobacillus. They grow bacteria on agar media. The action of bacteria on foods demonstrates how these microorganisms digest proteins and sugars and how they leave behind waste products. The waste products are sometimes beneficial and often deleterious.
The purpose of this set of explorations is to discover the effect of antibacterial agents and antibiotics on the growth of bacteria. Students make antibacterial and antibiotic discs and affix them to plates that they have inoculated with known sources of bacteria. The resultant zones of inhibition offer evidence of the relative effectiveness of each agent against the growth of bacterial colonies.