1887

Blast a Biofilm: A Hands-On Activity for School Children and Members of the Public

    Authors: Victoria L. Marlow1,*, Tristan MacLean2, Helen Brown3, Taryn B. Kiley1, Nicola R. Stanley-Wall1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Division of Molecular Microbiology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK DD1 5EH; 2: Norwich Bioscience Institutes, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK NR4 7UH; 3: Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney Lane, Norwich, UK NR4 7UA
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 02 December 2013
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding authors. Mailing address: Nicola R. Stanley-Wall, Division of Molecular Microbiology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK DD1 5EH. Phone: +44(0)1382-386335. Fax: +44(0)1382-388216. E-mail: n.r.stanleywall@dundee.ac.uk. Victoria L. Marlow, Division of Molecular Microbiology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK DD1 5EH. Phone: +44(0)1382-386292. Fax: +44(0)1382-388216. E-mail: v.l.marlow@dundee.ac.uk.
    • ©2013 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 252-254. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.563
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    Abstract:

    Microbial biofilms are very common in nature and have both detrimental and beneficial effects on everyday life. Practical and hands-on activities have been shown to achieve greater learning and engagement with science by young people (1, 4, 5). We describe an interactive activity, developed to introduce microbes and biofilms to school age children and members of the public. Biofilms are common in nature and, as the favored mode of growth for microbes, biofilms affect many parts ofeveryday life. This hands-on activity highlights the key concepts of biofilms by allowing participants to first build, then attempt to ‘blast,’ a biofilm, thus enabling the robust nature of biofilms to become apparent. We developed the blast-a-biofilm activity as part of our two-day Magnificent Microbes event, which took place at the Dundee Science Centre-Sensation in May 2010 (6). This public engagement event was run by scientists from the Division of Molecular Microbiology at the University of Dundee. The purpose of the event was to use fun and interesting activities to make both children and adults think about how fascinating microbes are. Additionally, we aimed to develop interactive resources that could be used in future events and learning environments, of which the blast-a-biofilm activity is one such resource. Scientists and policy makers in the UK believe engaging the public with research ensures that the work of universities and research institutes is relevant to society and wider social concerns and can also help scientists actively contribute to positive social change (2). The activity is aimed at junior school age children (9–11 years) and adults with little or no knowledge of microbiology. The activity is suitable for use at science festivals, science clubs, and also in the classroom, where it can serve as a tool to enrich and enhance the school curriculum.

Key Concept Ranking

Microbial Biofilms
0.6
Dental Plaque
0.53333336
Immune Cells
0.41278723
Microbial Diversity
0.41278723
Fig
0.33333334
Water
0.30157897
0.6

References & Citations

1. Ashby J, Wood C 2010 Lessons in learning: primary schools, universities, and museums University College London Museums and Collections London, UK
2. Funders of Research in the UK 2011 Concordat for engaging the public with research: a set of principles drawn up by the Funders of Research in the UK London, UK
3. Hope H 2012 Beastly biofilms Immunology News 19 3 9
4. National Foundation for Educational Research 2011 Exploring young people’s views on science education: report to the Wellcome Trust Wellcome Trust London, UK
5. Ofsted 2011 Successful science: an evaluation of science education in England 2007–2010 The Office for Standards in Education document number 100034, Children’s Services and Skills Manchester, UK
6. Stanley-Wall NR 2010 Magnificent microbes Microbiol Today 37 192 193
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2013-12-02
2017-11-24

Abstract:

Microbial biofilms are very common in nature and have both detrimental and beneficial effects on everyday life. Practical and hands-on activities have been shown to achieve greater learning and engagement with science by young people (1, 4, 5). We describe an interactive activity, developed to introduce microbes and biofilms to school age children and members of the public. Biofilms are common in nature and, as the favored mode of growth for microbes, biofilms affect many parts ofeveryday life. This hands-on activity highlights the key concepts of biofilms by allowing participants to first build, then attempt to ‘blast,’ a biofilm, thus enabling the robust nature of biofilms to become apparent. We developed the blast-a-biofilm activity as part of our two-day Magnificent Microbes event, which took place at the Dundee Science Centre-Sensation in May 2010 (6). This public engagement event was run by scientists from the Division of Molecular Microbiology at the University of Dundee. The purpose of the event was to use fun and interesting activities to make both children and adults think about how fascinating microbes are. Additionally, we aimed to develop interactive resources that could be used in future events and learning environments, of which the blast-a-biofilm activity is one such resource. Scientists and policy makers in the UK believe engaging the public with research ensures that the work of universities and research institutes is relevant to society and wider social concerns and can also help scientists actively contribute to positive social change (2). The activity is aimed at junior school age children (9–11 years) and adults with little or no knowledge of microbiology. The activity is suitable for use at science festivals, science clubs, and also in the classroom, where it can serve as a tool to enrich and enhance the school curriculum.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.

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FIGURE 1.

Images showing model microbes created using STAEDTLER FIMO modelling clay. (A) Model microbes placed beside a five pence piece, for size comparison. (B) Microbes in a plastic tub. (C) A ready-made biofilm to show visitors. Here the microbes are captured in 1.5% (w/v) agar in water. For details see Appendix 3 .

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 252-254. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.563
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Image of FIGURE 2.

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FIGURE 2.

Images showing blast-a-biofilm game. (A) Typical set up of blast-a-biofilm game taken prior to start of activity. (B) Picture of the blast-a-biofilm activity in action.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 252-254. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.563
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