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Student-Centered Microbioassay Laboratory Activity Utilizing Bioluminescent Bacteria

    Authors: Kerri Younkin1,*, Christina Romano2
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    Affiliations: 1: Southern York County School District, Glen Rock, PA 17327; 2: Scholastic Inc., New York, NY 10012
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. July 2018 vol. 19 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i2.1373
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    Abstract:

    Student-centered teaching allows students to be actively engaged in hands-on, minds-on activities that emphasize creativity and collaboration, enabling them to ask questions and design their own investigations to real-world problems. One such problem is water contamination, which causes human health and environmental issues. However, chemical water quality testing for pollutants can be timely and expensive. In addition to chemical testing, researchers have developed assays using unicellular organisms to determine which pollutants are present and in what concentrations. In this three-hour laboratory activity, high school students and undergraduate biology or microbiology students work in pairs to help a fictional company develop a water quality microbioassay. Students design their own laboratory protocols to test the reaction of a bioluminescent bacterial species (i.e., or ) to exposure of common aquatic pollutants such as fertilizer, household cleaners, and motor oil. During this laboratory activity, students apply previously learned components of experimental design, including positive and negative controls, constants, and experimental groups. In addition, students gain experience writing a scientific explanation for a recommendation regarding the bioluminescent bacteria’s suitability in a bioassay. Pre- and post-evaluation data revealed that students were successful in achieving the activity’s objectives as well as in designing their investigations and writing their protocols using scaffolds within the lesson.

References & Citations

1. Felder RM, Brent R 1996 Navigating the bumpy road to student-centered instruction Coll Teach 44 2 43 47 10.1080/87567555.1996.9933425 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/87567555.1996.9933425
2. Mankiewicz-Boczek J, Nalecz-Jawecki G, Drobniewska A, Kaza M, Sumorok B, Izydorczyk K, Zelewski M, Sawicki J 2008 Application of microbiotests battery for complete toxicity assessments of rivers Ecotoxicol Environ Safety 71 830 836 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2008.02.023 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2008.02.023
3. Nunes-Halldorson V, Leticia Duran N 2003 Bioluminescent bacteria: LUX genes as environmental biosensors Braz J Microbiol 34 91 96 10.1590/S1517-83822003000200001 http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1517-83822003000200001
4. Thomulka KW, McGee DJ, Lange JH 1993 Use of the bioluminescent bacterium Photobacterium phosphoreum to detect potentially biohazardous materials in the water Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 51 4 538 544 10.1007/BF00192169 8400656 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00192169
5. Sousa S, Duffy C, Weitz H, Glover A, Eckart B, Henkler R, Killham K 1997 Use of a LUX-modified bacterial biosensor to identify constraints to bioremediation of BTEX-contaminated sites Environ Toxicol Chem 17 6 1039 1045 10.1002/etc.5620170609 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/etc.5620170609
6. Wadia K, Thompson KC 2007 Low-cost ecotoxicity testing of environmental samples using microbiotests for potential implementation of the Water Framework Directive Trends Anal Chem 26 4 300 307 10.1016/j.trac.2007.01.011 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trac.2007.01.011
7. Emmert EAB 2013 Biosafety guidelines for handling microorganisms in the teaching laboratory: development and rationale J Microbiol Biol Educ 14 1 78 83 10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.531 23858356 3706168 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.531

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2018-07-31
2019-08-25

Abstract:

Student-centered teaching allows students to be actively engaged in hands-on, minds-on activities that emphasize creativity and collaboration, enabling them to ask questions and design their own investigations to real-world problems. One such problem is water contamination, which causes human health and environmental issues. However, chemical water quality testing for pollutants can be timely and expensive. In addition to chemical testing, researchers have developed assays using unicellular organisms to determine which pollutants are present and in what concentrations. In this three-hour laboratory activity, high school students and undergraduate biology or microbiology students work in pairs to help a fictional company develop a water quality microbioassay. Students design their own laboratory protocols to test the reaction of a bioluminescent bacterial species (i.e., or ) to exposure of common aquatic pollutants such as fertilizer, household cleaners, and motor oil. During this laboratory activity, students apply previously learned components of experimental design, including positive and negative controls, constants, and experimental groups. In addition, students gain experience writing a scientific explanation for a recommendation regarding the bioluminescent bacteria’s suitability in a bioassay. Pre- and post-evaluation data revealed that students were successful in achieving the activity’s objectives as well as in designing their investigations and writing their protocols using scaffolds within the lesson.

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