This is a seventh grade class, one-hour periods, which will last six to seven days. The curriculum area being addressed is the study of bacteria. The goal is the understanding of bacteria in our ecological system. Technology which will be used is the Internet, word-processing on computers, plating, incubator, microscopes etc. Students will be working in 3 to 4 person groups. Students are flexibly grouped in order to provide equitable learning opportunities. Students will have already covered use of microscopes and studying cells, parts of cells, and the difference between producers and consumers. They will already know by doing a lab with pond water simple identification of microscopic organisms and whether they are produces or consumers. They will have a basic understanding the importance bacteria is to our ecosystem in relationship to decay of dead material and returning these nutrients to the soil.
The teacher begins the lesson with the hook from the lesson plan. He states that the principal of the school needs their help in finding out where this outbreak of flu is coming from. The teacher states that they have studied bacteria, and now is the time to put this knowledge to work. The teacher breaks this class into groups of 3 to 4 so the students can brainstorm how to go about this assignment. After about a half-hour time the teacher asks each group where they were at in their brainstorming. Each group states that they need to know more about growing bacteria in a lab situation . They also come up with the idea of finding this information on the Internet. They would then go around the school to different locations that they think are public enough for students to be picking up this bacterial infection. Examples are first the boys and girls restrooms, water fountains, cafeteria, public telephones, computer keyboards, etc.. The internet sites are picked out with the help of a professor ( Professor in Microbiology) at one of the local universities that the teacher attends during the summer. The professor is very pleased to help in any way with the student project. She provides her e-mail address to the students so they can e-mail her about questions they have. The next session is devoted to teleconferencing with the professor from the University. The students are able to ask questions to the professor directly. The students have to have their questions prepared before the class session. The students use Firetalk for telecommunications. They are able to see the professor while they were asking questions. The next class session is devoted to going to the computer room and looking on the Internet for ways of collecting in growing bacteria. One guidance given by their teacher is that they are to look at the sites already listed under their class name.
Due to school regulations all Internet sites must be previewed by a teacher or administrator before students are allowed to be them. Here are some of the sites:
The teacher has several different sites that explaine basic growth patterns of bacteria. Also one very good site that all the students went to which shows a high school student growing bacteria at her school and is exactly what these students will be doing. The site shows how to collect the bacteria, what temperature to grow the bacteria at, etc.. They spend two class sessions just in the computer room looking at the Internet sites and take notes. The fourth class session is for collecting bacteria. The students have to decide how many plates they will need and where there will collect their samples. The number of collections is restricted by how many plates are available for all the students. Each group can have five plates. They then brain storm as a class as to where they would collect their samples. This is probably one of the hardest parts of the project because each group wants to go to the same locations. At this point the teacher has to intervene and give some guidance. The rest of the class session is used to collect samples which are then placed into the incubator. Of course each plate has to be labeled by group, date, and location.
By the next class session (24 hours later) the students have growth on their ardor plates. They then count the number of colonies on the plates. They try to look at the bacteria under a microscope but of course as they learn, the bacteria are too small to see with a regular microscope. They form a data chart of #bacteria verses sample site locations. The next class session is devoted to class room convincing with other schools in the district and across the country. The students use Blackboard and Firetalk to do this. The schools around the country are obtained from the professor at the local university. These are classes that he has been working with long distance. The students share their data with the other schools so they can come to a consensus to give to the local superintendent of the school district. The students are able to teleconference with the other schools. The next class session is devoted to entering in their data into a common database in the computer lab. From this they are to determine which locations in the school are possible locations for bacterial outbreaks. They come up with some very interesting conclusions. Some of the cleanest places are the public restrooms. They conclude that this is because these rooms are cleaned periodically with antibiotic cleaners. The locations that had the most bacterial growth are the public telephones, and the public counter in the office. (for fun they test the teacher's coffee cup and found that it grows more bacteria than any other place in the school) This information is given to the principle as requested. The students, to the surprise of the teacher, do not want to stop this lab. They find on the Web sites information about super bugs or bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. The teacher allows two more days in the computer room for them to research about bacteria that are resistant to to antibiotics and why this is harmful to the public in general.
The students answer the hook and go beyond what is asked of them in researching the problem of using too many antibiotics in everyday life. They now have an understanding of what this does to our ecology and the fact that we are putting ourselves into a dangerous situation. They are assessed by their lab write-up plus informal observations as the the teacher has been keeping notes on who was doing what and how well they were doing it during all sessions.
Created for the Fermilab
LInC program sponsored by Fermi National
Accelerator Laboratory Education Office
and Friends of Fermilab, and
funded by United States Department of Energy,
Illinois State Board of Education,
North Central Regional Technology in Education
Consortium which is operated by North Central
Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National
Author(s): Lisa Parker from Montilieu Avenue Elementary School (firstname.lastname@example.org), Steve Abondolo from Northwest Middle School(email@example.com), and Pat Abondolo(firstname.lastname@example.org) from St. Pius X School
Greensboro, North Carolina
Created: February 15, 2001 - Updated: April 18, 2001