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Observing Different Microbes

Author(s): Barbara Tharp, MS, and Nancy Moreno, PhD

Engage Students by Asking...

Begin by encouraging students to share their ideas about microbes. Ask questions, such as the ones listed on this slide, to prompt students' thinking. Make note of any other questions that students raise.

Over the course of this activity, students will learn that microbes are any organisms that are too tiny to observe with the unaided eye. Students will observe members of three different groups with microscopic members: bacteria (in yogurt), fungi (baker's yeast) and protists (paramecia or other inhabitants of pond water). Of these groups, only bacteria consist exclusively of single-celled, microscopic members.

"Microbe" is a general term used to refer to a living thing too small to see without magnification. Many biologists do not consider viruses, which are unable to live and reproduce on their own, to be living. However, viruses usually are included in the study of microorganisms, because they play important roles as disease-causing agents, and are able to transfer genes among bacteria and other cells. 

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605