We at STC are happy to take care of the interests of teachers. We most often do this by choosing and treating topics in our articles in a way that is suitable for teaching (check our category "Teachers Corner".) Today we would like to draw the attention of the teachers among you to collections of materials that can help you plan and conduct your microbiology classes.
The Microbial Sciences Initiative (MSI) at Harvard University has a curated database, a "repository for microbiology activities from around the web. Made for teachers, parents, or students interested in learning microbiology, the ever-growing database of more than 50 items includes several types of resources (online games, hands on activities, readings, and lesson plans) that span many topics in microbiology − disease, microbiomes, symbiosis, environmental microbiology, viruses and more." One of my favorites is the course (with lesson plan) for 'What Food Does Yeast Like Best?' by ASM.
hhmi|BioInteractive is a fully searchable and well structured collection of great teaching material with an emphasis on interactive online learning. They say: "Our stories anchor a variety of classroom resources based on peer-reviewed science. From data-rich activities and case studies to high-quality videos and interactive media, our resources are designed to connect students to big ideas in biology, promote engagement with science practices, and instill awe and wonder about the living world." You think of setting up your own Winogradsky column in the classroom? First check their 'Winogradsky Column: Microbial Ecology in a Bottle'!
Whatever the curricula dictate for teaching microbiology, without allowing students to gain their own practical experience it is half the fun for both students and teachers. One of these experiences is to observe the small things "live", or as we say in science, "in vivo". Not all schools are equipped with microscopes, but fortunately there are full‑fledged, affordable solutions. And solutions that engage students in making their microscopes themselves! One is making their own 'Leeuwenhoek microscope' from scratch. Pat Keeling wrote about this here in STC and provides a construction and operating manual via his website (he also has a YouTube video.) Another fully functional microscope is, since several years, the fantastic 'foldscope' from the Prakasch lab (@TeamFoldscope) at Stanford University, available here. There is also a lively Twitter hashtag, #foldscope, where people from around the world exchange their observations and experiences.
I can't conclude this short excursion into available teaching materials without highlighting 'Skype a Scientist' (@SkypeScientist). "We want to give students the opportunity to get to know a real scientist and get the answers to their questions straight from the source," and they're really good at that as I've learned from the reactions of students, teachers and the participating scientists.