Students will do the following:
The class will need the following:
Evaluation: Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate how well students conducted research, created and presented their displays, and participated in class discussions.
Bacteria and World Events
Did you know that bacteria have had—and continue to have—a role in world events? Have students go to the following Web site and read about how bacteria changed the course of history: Microbial Facts and Trivia. Then have them pick one story and write what could have happened if bacteria had not been around. Would the outcome have been better or worse?
To share other interesting anecdotes about bacteria with the class, look for the book Power Unseen: How Microbes Rule the World , by Bernard Dixon.
Alternatively, students can keep a scrapbook of how the bacteria anthrax has played a role in recent events following the terrorist attacks in the United States. Make sure students include in their scrapbooks what anthrax is, what it looks like, how it affects living things, and its role in the lives of U.S. citizens.
Killer Germs: Microbes and Diseases That Threaten Humanity
Barry E. Zimmerman and David J. Zimmerman. Contemporary Books, 1996.
Disease-causing microbes have existed almost as long as the Earth! Follow the history of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, and worms, as well as treatments and the efforts to develop cures for disease, in this well-researched book. The outlook for the future is a major concern of the authors, who are both scientists.
Plague and Pestilence: Deadly Diseases That Changed the World
Margrete Lamond. Allen & Unwin, 1997.
This is a small paperback, packed full of information about major diseases that have caused epidemics throughout time as well as those that are problems today. Using short paragraphs, occasional drawings, and highlighted facts, each chapter explains the history of a wide range of diseases, including bubonic plague, typhus, and Lyme disease.
Definition: Single-celled organisms that are classified as prokaryotes, a group whose DNA is not enclosed in a cell nucleus.
Context: Bacteriaappeared on Earth billions of years ago and have been found everywhere—in the ground, in the air, and in the bodies of most living things.
Definition: A scientist who specializes in the study of microscopic forms of life.
Context: Amicrobiologiststudies all aspects of bacteria, including where they live, what they eat, how they reproduce, and how they affect life on Earth.
Definition: A graphic representation of an image as shown under a microscope.
Context: Amicrographof bacteria is usually magnified several hundred times so that we can see their parts clearly.
Definition: Bacteria that cause diseases in humans.
Context: Streptococcus is thepathogenthat causes strep throat.
This lesson adheres to the National Science Education Standards for students in grades 5-8:
Marilyn Fenichel, a freelance writer and curriculum developer.
This lesson was developed in consultation with Donna Clem, a high school biology teacher.