Students grow bacteria gardens

Often students grow vegetable gardens for a science project, but some local students took on an entirely different task. They grew bacteria cultures. It was one of several educational activities at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography’s annual open house — Skidaway Marine Science Day — on Saturday, October 10.

The bacteria project was the brainchild of Skidaway Institute scientist Marc Frischer and student assistant LaGina Frazier.

Marc Frischer (right) and LaGina Frazier at their Skidaway Marine Science Day exhibit

Marc Frischer (right) and LaGina Frazier at their Skidaway Marine Science Day exhibit

“Microbes get a bad rap,” said Frazier, who is also a biology student at Savannah State University. “We wanted to show the students that bacteria are all around them, and most bacteria are beneficial.”

Visitors to the Frischer lab exhibit at Skidaway Marine Science Day were given a cotton swab and told to wipe it anything they wanted to collect some bacteria. A total of 98 students participated. They roamed the campus, swabbing plants, trees, buildings and each other.

After a quick demonstration, Frazier and the Frischer lab volunteers let the students “streak” (spread) their sample onto a culture dish. Each dish had an ID number which was given to the student. Following the collection, Frazier grew the bacteria cultures in Skidaway Institute’s microbiology lab. After a week, the cultures were photographed and posted on Skidaway Institute’s Web site. The participants used their ID number to view their dish and compare their results with the other participants.

One student's fast-growing bacteria culture

One student's fast-growing bacteria culture

“The great thing about using our Web site is the students don’t have to come back out here to see the results of their exercise,” said Frazier. “They can see the results of their microbe collection by visiting our Web site.”

Frazier said she could tell the students obtained a wide variety of different microbes just from a visual inspection. There are no plans to test the cultures any further and specifically indentify each one.

“We hope this exercise taught the students a little about a part of their world they can’t usually see with the naked eye,” said Frazier. “Maybe some of them may be inspired to study science seriously as they advance in school.”

The results of the project can be seen here.


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2 Responses to “Students grow bacteria gardens”

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