Microbes, or microorganisms, live all around us, even on our bodies! The study of microbes is called Microbiology. Most microbe strains are beneficial to us, but some can be harmful, especially in large amounts or if they are growing in the wrong place. Play Bacteria in the Cafeteria to learn more about helpful and harmful bacteria.
Microbes, such as bacteria, grow rapidly. We call them microbes because they are microscopic and we need a microscope to see them. But if we allow a single bacteria to multiply and form a colony, we can see a few of the characteristics with our own eyes. Check out the colonies of microbes from a child’s hand!
Since microbes grow quickly, they can spread. They can even spread around the world. See how a virus, another type of microbe, can travel around the world in How Lou Got the Flu.
The astronauts on the ISS are studying the microbes that live in the ISS. Just like we have brought different microbes into our homes, astronauts have brought microbes into the ISS. Learn more about them and how they study them in Microbiology 101: Where People Go, Microbes Follow. They may even follow us to other planets!
Now it’s time to grow your own microbes just like the astronauts!
Microbiologists and astronauts grow microbes on petri dishes with a medium called agar. We are going to make something similar at home. Follow the directions on this page:
Once you have grown your microbes, you can use this guide, Interpreting Agar Plates, to describe the different microbes you see on your medium,
If you want to learn more about microbes this is a great resource: Biology4Kids – Microbiology