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Here's your chance to be an amateur microbiologist.

You don't have to have a scientific degree and wear a white lab coat to do these activities. All you have to do is be willing to muck around with dirt, paint, pondwater and other sometimes gooky stuff.

Most of the activities here use supplies you should be able to find easily in your home or a nearby store.

Ask your parents for help in collecting supplies and doing the experiments. If you're a member of a youth group, club or scout troop, suggest to your leader that you try these fun activities as a group.

This is the place to try out some fun, hands-on activities that will guide you through the wonders of the MicrobeWorld and to share your expedition experiences with others.

Check back often; we'll be adding new activities regularly.

MicrobeWorld Activities

MicrobeWorld Activities offers you 17 hands-on activities that correlate with and build on the themes and ideas presented in the PBS series, Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth. The activities are designed for middle school students but can be adapted for any age group.

You don’t have to have an advanced scientific degree to demonstrate or do these activities. Anyone — parent, teacher, student, community group leader, scout troop leader, science club member, etc. — can lead these activities. Each activity comes with a facilitator's section as well as a participant’s section. All use materials and equipment that are easily found at home or a neighborhood store.

All the activities have been field-tested nationally with diverse community outreach audiences, including church groups, PTAs, Boy and Girl Scouts, 4-H groups, museums, and science centers.

The activities have been aligned with the National Science Education Standards (NSES) developed by the National Research Council and the New Standards™ Student Performance Standards developed by the National Center on Education and the Economy. Suggested modifications to address the needs of exceptional individuals are included with the activities.

Print out the activities and begin exploring! Make as many copies as you need for your group.

Available in Adobe PDF format!
(You will need the Adobe Acrobat™ Reader v3.0 or higher to access these files. If needed, download the Acrobat Reader here.)

MicrobeWorld Activities Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. Introduction to the MicrobeWorld Activities
  4. Alignment with the National Science Education Standards
  5. Alignment with the New Standards Student Performance Standards

The Activities

Experiment PDF Version
Creepy Critters download PDF
Forever and a Day download PDF
Mega Multiples of Microbes download PDF
Natural Selection download PDF
Biosphere in a Bottle download PDF
Bread Bag Nightmares download PDF
Can Microbes Tell the Difference? download PDF
Nature's Trash Compactors download PDF
Now You See It, Now You Don't download PDF
Caught Dirty Handed download PDF
Defend your Surface download PDF
Let's Get Small download PDF
The Yeast of Our Worries download PDF
Cabbage Today, Sauerkraut Soon download PDF
Fun with Fomites download PDF
Puddles download PDF
Yeast on the Rise download PDF
Microbial Slime Not Available

Comments from educators

“I have seen how excited kids get about science when it is presented to them in a hands-on, ‘discovery-oriented’ format. Conversely, I’ve seen kids get totally turned off to science presented in a more ‘traditional’ manner.”
— Inge S. Eriks

“Everything is inexpensive, doable and hands-on for the students — and it’s cooperative learning.”
— Thomas P. Rooney

The MicrobeWorld Activities were developed by the National Association for Biology Teachers.

Major funding support for the MicrobeWorld Activities was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, The Foundation for Microbiology, and the American Society for Microbiology.