"Magnficient Microbes" Kids program

Kids at pond

Welcome to the website for my “Magnificent Microbes” kids summer microbiology program. The 2014 program was the first time that a microbiology module was offered through the UConn “Kids are Scientists and Engineers” (KASET) program.

We met for five days from 9:00 am until noon. On Monday we collected termites, soil samples, roots of plants with nodules of bacteria on them, and some blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) from the surface of soil in the lawns on campus. We took these back to the lab for experiments and to look at the microbes under the microscope.

Kids scopes

On Tuesday and Wednesday we did lab experiments and demonstrations on kitchen microbiology (yogurt, bread molds, dishrag disinfection) and bacterial processes (gas production that makes bread dough rise and growth on lactose by gut bacteria to mimic lactose intolerance). On Thursday we went back outside to collect samples from the local pond and soils using microscope slides that had been left there for two weeks. We took those back to the lab to have a look at them under the microscope. On Friday we looked back at all our experiments and then toured some of our Microbiology labs. We saw the electron microscopes, a lab that studies bacteria that grow with the bobtail squid (including one that glows in the dark), microbes that grow inside termites’ guts, bacteria that grow above the temperature of a well-done steak (70°C or 158°F), and microbes called halophilic (“salt-loving”) archaea that grow in water saturated with table salt (sodium chloride).

See photos from the program here

See the experiments and field work we did here

This year we had three participants

Hannah Leibowitz

(South Windsor High School)

                                                Sai Keerthi Manasanil

                                                              (South Windsor High School)

Nicolas Michel

(Tolland Middle School)

We also had great course assistants

Emma White

Microbiology PhD student

                                              Shannon Soucy

                                                           Microbiology PhD student

Charles Bridges (right), Microbiology PhD student

Jamie Micciulla (left), Microbiology PhD student

Lab TAsa

Arpita Jajoo (left) senior at Amity Regional High School, Woodbridge, CT

Rachel Son (right) senior at E. O. Smith High School, Mansfield, CT