Living in the Microbial World

Created by Lorraine Olendzenski, St. Lawrence University
Living in the Microbial World is a summer workshop for middle and high school educators, hosted by the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. This on-line collection represents resources and activities developed for, and as a result of, the collaboration between teacher participants and Woods Hole scientists.
Eel Pond in Woods Hole MA

The Microbial World & the Classroom

The diversity of bacteria, fungi, and protists and the roles of these micro-organisms in shaping our environment are given only cursory mention in elementary and secondary classrooms. Often bacteria are presented only as "germs" or disease agents. The evolutionary, ecological, and economic importance of these microbes is not well known among the general public.

The Workshop

Each summer, the MBL offers a hands-on workshop for middle and high school teachers (grades 6-12) focusing on activities that can be incorporated into existing classroom curricula. Resident and visiting scientists from the Woods Hole community present teachers with background information and information about current research developments on a variety of topics related to the importance of microbes and microbial processes in the biosphere. Participating teachers will spend time in the laboratory engaging in hands-on activities and will also tour MBL facilities.

LITMW Teachers

The workshop emphasizes activities and experimental systems that can be used easily and inexpensively in the classroom to teach basic biological principles. There is also a focus on forming testable questions and designing simple experimental systems for inquiry-based investigation. Participants are allowed time to examine new curriculum materials and share teaching experiences.


Funding for the workshop has been provided by the Foundation for Microbiology, Pfizer Foundation, the Mellon Trust, and the NASA Astrobiology Institute.


Readings: This collection of resources includes background reading materials such as newsletters, primary research reports, news articles, web sites, and other educational products.

Teaching: This collection of resources includes teaching materials such as developed lesson plans, hands-on activities, safety and ordering information, and pedagogical literature.

Links: This collection features other websites dedicated to microbiology.

Bring em Back Alive is a series of activities that demonstrate various techniques for capturing free-living microbes from the environment.

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