Antibacterial soap, antibacterial lotion, everyday we think that harmful bacteria is being killed and we are safe from infection. Are we?? Recently scores of students and teachers reported sick in record numbers. People have been sick in record numbers and have been recovering more slowly. Where do we find the most bacteria at school and what can we do to prevent illness? This is the task middle school science students will tackle. Science experiences include a background in basic cell structure, an understanding of producers and consumers and the need for bacteria in the ecological system to break down dead material and release nutrients back into the environment. During the project students will collect and grow bacteria in a lab setting, analyze their data, and develop a presentation of their findings. Three views of the project follow:
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.
"It's growing", exclaims an excited student, just one day after the experiment began. Students are busy, some move along the counters of the classroom inspecting specimens growing on labeled plates. Others observe the growth of bacteria under microscopes, while another small group works on the classroom computer recording their data on spreadsheets they have recently developed. Back to the top
7th grade science students are responding to an urgent request from the principal to find what areas in their middle school have the most harmful bacteria. Middle Schools across the district, with the help of a local university are being asked to research areas that may be the cause of the spreading infection. It is winter and many students and teachers are absent with different types of viruses. Students will communicate between schools using the Internet program Blackboard a distance learning environment. They will use teleconferencing equipment at the local high school to communicate with experts around the country.
As part of the science curriculum, students study bacteria in a 8-lesson unit. The teacher breaks the class into groups of 3 to 4 so students can brainstorm how to go about the assignment. After a half-hour, the teacher checks in on the student's progress. Each group stated the need to know more about growing bacteria in a lab situation. They came up with a plan to find information on the Internet and to set up a teleconferencing session with experts at a local university. Students decide to go around the school to different locations they thought were public enough for students to pick up bacterial infection. Examples were the boys and girls restrooms, water fountains, cafeteria, public telephones, computer keyboards, etc. Once the specimens are collected on ardor plates, students began to observe and count the growth of colonies. Students record their data on spreadsheets on the computer. They e-mail their findings to students in other schools. Through the process they learn to analyze data through discussions and teleconferencing sessions. Students decide the type of product they want to design for their final presentation based on the technology they have available to them.
After several days of data recording and further research, students conclude their findings and produce a report for the principal. They compare results with students at other schools. Students are assessed by their lab write-ups and presentations to the school body.
From antibacterial soap to children'są toys manufactured with antibacterial surfaces, with all the precautions today people assume they have eradicated disease and infection. Yet, we continue to see outbreaks of illness. Where do we find the most bacteria at school and what can we do to prevent illness? This is the task middle school science students will tackle.. Back to the top
Our saga begins as the seventh grade science class receives a email message from school administrators distressed over high rates of absences due to infections in school. The email enlists the aid of the science students to search out and destroy the bugs. You can just hear the class. "Germs - Yuck." "Here at our school. Ick." " I just drank out of the water fountain. I want a doctor." Students will begin with preliminary internet research which will lead to more questions, they will address via email to local university professors acting as expert advisors for the groups.
Enervated by their exciting research, students are now ready for the collection and development of cultures. Deciding how many plates they need and where they will collect their samples will be a critical moment in group dynamics. The number of collections are restricted by how many plates are available for all the students. This will create certain tensions in the groups as they make their final choices. Each group may have five plates. They must then brainstorm as a class where they would collect their samples. This is probably one of the hardest parts of the project because everyone wants to go to the same place. You can just hear the voices rise as they argue over which group deserves the choice site. Students should be given an opportunity find a way to distribute the wealth. One of the hardest things is to take a step back and give them room to make this work. Samples will be collected, labeled and places in the incubator. The next class will collect the data from their samples and project is ready to move into the final phase.
Students are now ready for the collection and development of cultures. They have to decide how many plates they need and where they will collect their samples. The number of collections are restricted by how many plates are available for all the students. Each group could have five plates. They must then brainstorm as a class where they would collector their samples. This is probably one of the hardest parts of the project because everyone wants to go to the same place. Students should be given an opportunity find a way to distribute the wealth. One of the hardest things is to take a step back and give them room to make this work. Samples will be collected, labeled and places in the incubator. The next class will collect the data from their samples and project is ready to move into the next phase. Students are now ready to visit the computer lab to pull their information together, using database and spreadsheet and graphing tools.
"Ok, class, lets take our lab results to the computer lab. You will decide as a group how to set up the report of your findings." Lab students pour into the computer lab down the hall. "Ok, What do we do now." Somebody said we have to put all this stuff in the labs together." Students mill about, confused and frustrated. "How come we don't have anything that tells us what to do?" Some of the more industrious students, concerned about their grades, begin to sort through the web site, hoping to find an instruction page or some idea of what to do next."Yeah, it would help if someone knew something about what's going on. Hey, look out." Several bored students begin to rough house, nearly knocking a computer off a table.
"I know we are supposed to combine the results of our groups. Maybe we could use that database we worked on in AppleWorks." "Who remembers how to do that?" Several students think they do. "Great, you guys do that while the rest of us look at how we want to set up our group reports." Students have access to software for a standard lab report that depends on word processing, data base and spreadsheet, and multimedia avenues which include PowerPoint or Hyperstudio slideshows and web sites. Each group considers which applications they like to use and which ones will work the best for them as they summarize their findings and begin to come to some conclusions about how to solve the problem. At this point they will probably depend a great deal on emailing their university expert for advice. As this is to be the area students direct, after analysis, they must then determine, based on their results, what needs to be done and how to report this to the principal, the superintendant and other schools. If results merit it, they will need to look at what suggestions they will make to help and how to present the suggestions.. Back to the top
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