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Two spherical-shaped MERS-CoV viral particles (green), on the surface of a camel epithelial cell.
Courtesy of NIAID, NIH, and Colorado State University. CC-BY-2.0.

In a set of 12 related lessons, including a pre- and post-assessment, students explore microbes related to health (bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses), learn that microbes play key roles in the lives of humans, and discover that some cause diseases.

  • What Do You Know About Microbes? (pre-assessment)

    What Do You Know about Microbes? (pre-assessment)Lesson

    Students take a pre-assessment to determine what they already know about microbes. They also estimate the mass of microbes in the human body and begin building group concept maps.

  • Tools of Magnification

    Tools of MagnificationLesson

    Students explore magnification using water drops and hand lenses and learn about the light microscope. 

  • Magnifying and Observing Cells

    Magnifying and Observing CellsLesson

    Students make slides of cells from an onion skin and an Elodea leaf to observe under a microscope, and learn that all organisms are composed of cells.

  • Observing Different Microbes

    Observing Different MicrobesLesson

    Students use a light microscope to examine three different microbes: bacteria in yogurt, baker's yeast, and paramecia in pond water.

  • The Variety and Roles of Microbes

    The Variety and Roles of MicrobesLesson

    Students use sets of cards to categorize microbes’ roles and uses and learn that some microbes can share characteristics with more than one group.

  • Comparing Sizes of Microorganisms

    Comparing Sizes of MicroorganismsLesson

    Students create scale models of microorganisms, compare their relative sizes, and discover that microbes come in many different sizes and shapes.

  • Milestones in Microbiology

    Milestones in MicrobiologyLesson

    Students read about six milestones in the history of microbiology, create a timeline of events, and learn that many scientific advances become possible only after appropriate tools and techniques are developed.

  • Microbes Are Everywhere

    Microbes Are EverywhereLesson

    Students grow, observe and compare bacteria and/or fungi in petri dishes, learning that microbes are everywhere and can grow rapidly on sources of food and water.

  • Defending Against Microbes

    Defending Against MicrobesLesson

    Students investigate the human immune system and solve a crossword puzzle featuring vocabulary related to the immune system and microbes.

  • Infectious Disease Case Study

    Infectious Disease Case StudyLesson

    Students use evidence to determine whether a patient has a cold, flu or strep infection, and they also learn the differences between bacterial and viral infections.

  • Microbes and Disease

    Microbes and DiseaseLesson

    Students investigate a sample of microbes and the diseases associated with them, learn how diseases are transmitted and impact society, and create art projects representing the diseases they have studied.

  • And Now, What Do You Know About Microbes? (post-assessment)

    And Now, What Do You Know About Microbes? (post-assessment)Lesson

    Students complete a post-assessment and share what they have learned about microbes by presenting their completed concept maps to the class.

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