Courtesy of Linda Sherwood, Montana State University

Microbes impact our lives in many ways, but most of the time we are unaware of their activities. In this assignment, you will keep a daily diary enumerating the ways you personally have been affected by microbes. Upon completion of the diary, you will write a paper that explores one event in more detail. The procedures for completing this assignment are described below.

STEP 1 GET PREPARED. Before you start your diary, leaf through a microbiology textbook noting the diverse activities of microorganisms. This will help you start watching for what are usually "unseen encounters" with microbes.

STEP 2 KEEP A DIARY. I suggest you buy a small notebook to record your diary entries. The diary must be kept at least 7 days; therefore, you should have at least 7 different entries. For each event you describe in your diary, state the connection between the event and the activity of microbes. In other words, describe what happened to you (or describe something you did), and then describe what the microbes did.

STEP 3 WRITE A PAPER ABOUT ONE OF YOUR ENTRIES. Identify one entry that particularly sparked your interest in microorganisms and microbiology. Use that entry to prepare a 2 - 4 page, typewritten, double-spaced paper; it will be returned if it is handwritten. The paper should be written as though you are speaking to someone with no knowledge of microbiology or microorganisms. All sources of factual information should be cited and referenced in the bibliography. The box shows two examples of commonly used citation methods.

Clancy, M.J., L.M. Smith, and P.T. Magee (1982). Developmental Regulation of a Sporulation-Specific Enzyme Activity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Molecular and Cellular Biology 2:171-178.

Sambrook, J., et al. (1989). Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, 2nd ed. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

The paper should answer the following questions:

STEP 4 TURN IN THE DIARY AND PAPER ON TIME. Late diaries and papers will not be accepted.

GRADING Your grade for this assignment will be determined using the attached score sheet. Submit the score sheet with your diary and paper. If the paper is plagiarized, it will be returned, ungraded.


___Journal Entries (15 points) a

Number of Entries

Diversity of Entries

Clear Statement of Connection Between Microbes and Events

  • 7b___
  • 6 ___
  • 5 ___
  • 4 ___
  • 3 ___
  • 2 ___
  • 1 ___
  • 0 ___

  • All entries of different (4)c___
  • Most entries are different (3)___
  • About 2 of the entries are different (2) ___
  • Most entries are repetitive or similar (1)___
  • All the entries are repetitive or similar (0) ___

  • Connection is made for all entries (4)___
  • Connection is made for most entries (3)___
  • Connection is made for about 2 of the entries (2)___
  • Connection is not made for most of entries (1)___
  • Connection is not made for any of the entries (0)___

a Number of possible points.
b The number of entries equals the mastery level for this criterion.
c The numbers in parentheses indicate the mastery level.

To score:

___Citation of Resources for Paper (6 points)

Bibliography Is Attached

Reader Can Locate Cited Documents, Articles, Books, and Web Sites in Library and on WWW

Sources of Factual Information Are Documented in the Text

  • Yes ___
  • No ___
  • Always (3)___
  • Usually (2) ___
  • Rarely (1) ___
  • Not at all (0) ___
  • Always (3)___
  • Usually (2) ___
  • Rarely (1) ___
  • Not at all (0) ___

To Score:

___Questions Are Answered (4 points)

1. What is the scientific name of at least one organism that played a role in the event you described in your Micro Diary entry?

2. Precisely, what was the microbe doing?

3. What type of microbe is it? What domain does it belong to? Is it a bacterium, fungus, alga, etc.

4. What metabolic, structural, or other characteristics of the microbe contributed to the role it played in the event you described in your Micro Diary entry?

To Score: Use the following criteria to determine the points earned.

___ Quality of Responses to Questions (11 points)

Responses Are Thorough

Information Is Accurate

Responses Are Made in Language That Can Be Understood by Non-Scientists

  • All are (4) ___
  • More than 2 are (3)___
  • About 2 are (2) ___
  • Less than 2 are (1) ___
  • None are (0) ___

  • All information is (4)___
  • More than 2 of the information is (3) ___
  • About 2 of the information is (2) ___
  • Less than 2 of the information is (1) ___
  • None of the information is (0) ___

  • Always (3) ___
  • Usually (2) ___
  • Never (0) ___

To Score:

___ Quality of Writing (14 points)

Overall Organization

Paragraph Structure

Sentence Structure

Proofreading & Editing

Scientific Names Are Written Properly

Overall presentation is logical and the main theses of the paper are easily understood (3) ___

Some organization problems, but the main theses of the paper are easily understood (2)___

Organization is so poor that the main theses of the paper are difficult to understand (1)___

Consistently good paragraph structure is observed (2)___

Poorly constructed paragraphs are frequently observed (1)___


Grammatical errors are rare (3)___

Grammatical errors are relatively common, but do not significantly impact readers ability to understand meaning of sentence (2)___

Grammatical errors are so serious and/or frequent that understanding sentences is difficult (1)___

No typos and spelling errors (3)___

Some typos and spelling errors (2)___

Many typos and spelling errors (1)___


Always (3)___

Usually (2)___

Rarely (1)___

Never (0)___

To Score: Sum the mastery levels and record the total as the points earned.

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