Pathogens and Our Defenses

In this activity, students play a card game pitting immune, public health, and medical defenses against a variety of pathogens. By mapping which defenses are effective against which pathogens and looking for patterns, students gain a basic understanding of how each defense works. Finally, students are asked to make their own pathogen card and predict which defenses will be effective against it.

Pathogens and Our Defenses (PDF)

 

Intended Audience

K-4

 

5-8

 

9-12

X

 

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed

  • HS-LS1-2 Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

 

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this activity, students will be able to:

  1. Describe components of the human immune system and how they work.
  2. Describe different categories of human pathogens based on organism type, how they are transmitted, whether they live inside or outside of host cells, and notable features.
  3. Predict whether a particular immune, public health, or medical defense will be effective against a pathogen based on its features.

 

Topic

Infectious Disease, Immunology

 

Supplementary Artwork

If you prefer to have professionally printed card decks (as opposed to the Avery nametag inserts), you may use the high-resolution artwork below. The graphics are designed to be printed on standard poker-sized cards, 2.5" x 3.5". For each “Defense” deck, you need to print 4 copies of each card, and for each “Pathogen” deck, you need to print 3 copies of each card. To find vendors who print custom cards, Google “custom card game.”
Note that the artwork may not be altered and may be used for educational purposes only.

Pathogens and Our Defenses - Card Artwork

 

All K-12 Lesson Plans

 

You light up my life: Bioluminescent bacteria and anglerfish

This activity introduces students to bacteria by investigating symbiotic relationships. Although symbiotic relationships can be harmful or beneficial, this lesson focuses on helpful bacteria to show students that not all bacteria cause infections. The bacterium focused on in this exercise is Photobacterium (formerly Vibrio) fischeri. P. fischeri, made famous by the movie Finding Nemo, is a bacterium found in the light organ of certain fish and allows the fish to attract prey to survive. Consequently, the bacteria benefit by feeding on the residual prey. The success of this feeding circuitry involves P. fischeri communicating with one another.

You Light Up My Life: Bioluminescent Bacteria and Anglerfish (PDF)

 

Intended Audience

K-4

 

5-8

X

9-12

 

 

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this activity, students will be able to:

  1. Define microorganism and the types of symbiosis.
  2. Explain why the relationship between anglerfish and P. fischeri is mutualistic.
  3. Demonstrate that P. fischeri must be close to one another and use chemical signaling to exhibit luminescence.

 

Student Background

Before the interactive activity, students should know the basic definition of microorganism, bacteria, and the concept of symbiosis. Additionally, it is important to remind students that organisms strive to survive using energy efficient strategies, and these strategies are affected by the environment.

 

Keywords

Microorganisms, symbiosis, bacterial signaling, bioluminescence

 

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Putting Disinfectants to the Test

In this two-part lab, students will sample the indoor environment to estimate how many bacteria are living on surfaces, then test the effectiveness of various household disinfectants on bacterial growth. Students use RODAC petri plates to directly sample surfaces such as benches, desks, or cell phones and then can quantify the number of bacteria detected before and after cleaning with a disinfectant. They will also set up a disc diffusion assay to test the potency of household cleaners and other disinfectants against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.

Putting Disinfectants to the Test (PDF)

 

Intended Audience

K-4

 

5-8

 

9-12

X

 

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this activity, students will be able to:

  1. Quantify the number of cultivable bacteria from an environmental surface sample
  2. Observe how well different chemical disinfectants can kill bacteria or inhibit bacterial growth
  3. Compare the effectiveness of disinfectants on Gram-positive vs. Gram-negative bacteria
  4. Discuss the importance of disinfecting surfaces at home, especially in the kitchen

 

Student Background

Students should be familiar with lab safety and how to measure diameter. Students should also know that bacterial colonies originate from a single bacterial cell that grows and divides.

 

Keywords

Antimicrobial, Environmental sampling, Disc diffusion, Colony forming unity (CFU)

 

All K-12 Lesson Plans

 

Which Microbe are You? Human Microbiome Edition

Students explore the human microbiome in this lesson, first by voting on some discussion questions, then by taking a 'microbial personality' quiz that matches them with a particular microbiome microbe. From there, students create concept maps in small groups, incorporating their microbe and some general terms and ideas. Students also create their own quiz question by learning about additional species that are part of our microbiome. Finally, students revisit the discussion questions from the beginning and justify their answers using examples from the human microbiome.

Which Microbe Are You? Human Microbiome Edition (PDF)

 

Intended Audience

K-4

 

5-8

X

9-12

X

 

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Addressed

  • MS-LS1-1 Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
  • HS-LS2-3 Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

 

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this activity, the students will be able to:

  1. Define the terms “microbe” and “microbiome.”
  2. Describe some of the diverse features of microbes that live in or on the human body.
  3. Explain some ways in which microbes in our microbiomes help us.

Topic

Human Microbiome

 

Supplementary Artwork

ASM designed unique buttons for each microbial identity in the personality quiz. If you would like to reproduce these for your students, you can submit the high-resolution artwork in this zip file to the vendor of your choice. Note that this artwork is sized for 1” round buttons and includes bleed.
Note that the artwork may not be altered and may be used for educational purposes only.

Which Microbe Are You? Human Microbiome Edition - Button Artwork

 

All K-12 Lesson Plans

 

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