Skip Navigation


Author(s): Nancy P Moreno, PhD, Barbara Z Tharp, MS, Deanne B Erdmann, MS, Sonia R Clayton, PhD, and James P Denk, MA.

Two spherical-shaped MERS-CoV viral particles (green), on the surface of a camel epithelial cell.
Courtesy of NIAID, NIH, and Colorado State University. CC-BY-2.0.

Students explore microbes that impact our health (e.g., bacteria, fungi, protists,and viruses) and learn that microbes play key roles in the lives of humans, sometimes causing disease. The guide provides the following activities and readings:

  1. What Do You Know About Microbes? Pre-assessment
  2. Tools of Magnification: What tools might I use to observe something I can't normally see?
  3. Magnifying and Observing Cells: How do I make slides and and observe them under a microscope?
  4. Observing Different Microbes: What are the differences between bacteria, yeast, and paramecia?
  5. The Variety and Roles of Microbes: Can microbes be classified into groups, and are all microbes harmful?
  6. Comparing Sizes of Microorganisms: Are all microbes about the same size and shape?
  7. A Powerful Tool: What is a scanning electronic microscope, and how does it work?
  8. Milestones in Microbiology: What are six important events in the history of microbiology?
  9. Microbes Are Everywhere: Where do microbes live, and what do they need to survive?
  10. Defending against Microbes: How does the human body protect itself from harmful microbes?
  11. Infectious Disease Case Study: What evidence is needed to determine what kind of infection a person has?
  12. Microbes and Disease: What are some pathogens that are harmful to humans, how are the pathogens transmitted, and what impact do they have on society?
  13. And Now, What Do You Know About Microbes? Post-assessment

The Science of Microbes Teacher's Guide is most appropriate for students in grades 6–8 but may also be used with high school students. The guide is available in print format.

The guide may also be used with articles found in the student magazines X-Times: Microbes (microbes in food production, epidemics, special report on HIV/AIDS, types of microscopes), and X-Times: Career Options (interviews with professionals in science and healthcare professions).

This guide was developed in partnership with the Baylor-UT Houston Center for AIDS Research, an NIH-funded program.

Download: The Science of Microbes Teacher's Guide Download: Classroom Slides

Related Content

  • The Index Elephant

    The Index Elephant Reading

    In this storybook, young students track a mysterious illness that is killing baby Asian elephants. Students learn how doctors and scientists identified the pathogen, found a treatment, and are working to make a vaccine.

  • X-Times: Career Options

    X-Times: Career Options Reading

    Student magazine: Special issue featuring healthcare professionals who discuss why each chose his or her career, educational requirements needed to obtain the job, and day-to-day responsibilities.

  • X-Times: Microbes

    X-Times: Microbes Reading

    Student magazine: articles focusing on microbes, both helpful and harmful. Includes a special report, "HIV/AIDS: The Virus and the Epidemic."

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605