Bring the Magic of the Microbiome to Your Classroom
Having students investigate the human microbiome is a great way to engage them in active learning and course-based research. Many students become captivated by learning about the trillions of microbes living on and in their bodies. The American Society for Microbiology has four active learning experiences from our open access Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education to help you bring the magic of the microbiome to your classroom.
Do You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth? An Authentic Large-Scale Undergraduate Research Experience In Mapping The Human Oral Microbiome
J.T.H. Wang et al.; Level: Undergraduate
This inquiry-based activity is an Authentic Large-Scale Undergraduate Research Experience (ALURE) that engages students in conducting culture-dependent and -independent methods of microbial identification using samples of their own oral microbiomes. Learning objectives include aseptic technique, accurately preparing solutions and reaction mixes, designing experimental approaches, communicating experimental results, and critically evaluating scientific findings.
S. Freeman et al.; Level: Undergraduate
This inquiry-based activity engages students in testing for antibiotic resistance amongst their own skin microbiomes. Students learn how to estimate the frequency of antibiotic-resistant cells in natural populations of bacteria, analyze large datasets, and create and test their own hypothesis about patterns of antibiotic resistance. Complete Student and Teaching Assistant Laboratory Manuals, along with other teaching resources, are provided in the article.
A.M. Estes; Level: Grades 9-12; undergraduate
This hands-on exercise enables students to model the microbial ecosystem in the human gut using dried pasta and beans. This may sound simple, but students use the technique to investigate concepts such as niche availability, disturbance events, and microbial recolonization. They also explore the role of diet, environment, and antibiotic use in forming and maintaining individual human microbiomes.
S. Robertson-Albertyn et al. Level: Grades K-8
This hands-on activity introduces the concept of the microbiome to broader and/or younger audiences and is good for the elementary classroom or science festival. Participants are introduced to the four main types (phyla) of bacteria inhabiting the human gut and learn that that a balance between these types is required for digestive health. Finally, they create a model of the contents of the gut using flour, paint, cereal, and water and discuss the ideal balance of these ‘ingredients’.