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In this activity, each student is provided with a worksheet and three index cards. Each card indicates a different cell part (e.g. LPS, capsule, DNA). Students are placed in small groups and receive a written scenario regarding a bacterium with a certain goal it must carry out.  They must work together to decide what cell parts are needed to form the basic structure of any cell as well as to carry out the specific functions required by their scenario. To “build” their bacterium they must negotiate and trade index cards with other groups to acquire their desired cell parts. 

Intended Audience



Learning Objectives

By completing this activity, the student will be able to:

  1. Indicate which cell parts belong to eukaryotes or prokaryotes.
  2. Identify which cell structures or parts are common to all cells vs. cell structures only found in particular bacteria.
  3. Identify specific cell structures associated with virulence, and their functions.
  4. Define microbial virulence in terms of a structure-function approach.

Necessary Student Background

None required.


Structure-function, virulence, cell structures, prokarote, eukaryote, pilus, plasmid, cell wall 

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”Build a Bacterium” Scavenger Hunt (11 pages)