What is Project MICROBE?

Students engage in a series of inquiry-based activities in the Project MICROBE unit to learn about microbes from the three domains of life (Eukarya, Bacteria, and Archaea). Beginning with an exploration of the technological advances that led to the current three-domain tree of life, students investigate how Carl Woese and his research partners used molecular methods to discover the Archaea domain. After observing live microbial communities from a Winogradsky column, students develop a model of the matter and energy cycles within ecosystems that can be applied to biological communities, micro or macro. Through reading adapted scientific articles, students develop science literacy skills and discover the critical role of microbial communities in human health and development. Finally, students model the stability and change of these microbial ecosystems by analyzing published data on the effects of antibiotics on the native microbes of the human microbiome.