Fun with Bacteria!


While it’s true that some bacteria are harmful, so many bacteria are incredibly beneficial and really, we couldn’t survive without them. In this project, we’ll learn together about different kinds of beneficial bacteria. In the sessions we’ll be doing various experiments, many of which will take some time to develop and grow. So, in between the sessions, we will be communicating with each other via email, sending status updates and photos, so that we can all share how our experiments are going.

Session 1 will be in-person and we will learn that bacteria are all around us. We will create our own ecosystem of bacteria from mud or dirt and watch it grow. This is called a Winogradsky column.

Session 2 will be online and we’ll learn about the beneficial bacteria inside of us in our microbiome. We’ll make some bacteria-fermented foods like kefir and kombucha gummy jellies.

Session 3 will be in-person and over 2 days. We’ll learn about the role of bacteria in biotechnology. We’ll make BioArt, or living art, by painting on small petri dishes with bacteria that has been genetically engineered to fluoresce color. As part of this session, we’ll also make a DIY Incubator which will help our BioArt to grow. The materials for this session will come from Amino Labs — check out all their cool products and resources.

Session 4 will be in-person and we’ll learn about bacteria’s very important role in the environment and the nitrogen cycle. Without nitrogen-fixing bacteria all of the green growth you see around you and many of the food crops we eat would not be possible. In this session, we’ll grow some clover plants with and without nitrogen-fixing bacteria to observe any differences.

Our final session will also be in-person and we will investigate the bacteria in our every day lives. We’ll take samples from surfaces around us and attempt to grow bacteria from those samples to see what happens. Together we’ll figure out some inquiries to make like do natural remedies like tea tree oil have antibacterial properties?

AGES: 6th grade and up, minimum 4 kids, maximum 8

PROPOSED DATES (we may need to tweak based on group’s availability):

  • SAT, Nov 6, 10 am-12 pm, Lake Temescal
  • SUN, Dec 12, 2:00-3:30, ZOOM
  • SAT, Jan 15, 10 am-12 pm, office in Berkeley
  • SUN, Jan 16, 10 am-12 pm, office in Berkeley
  • SAT, March 5, 2:00-4:00, Lake Temescal
  • SAT, April 30, 2:00-4:00, office in Berkeley