University of Dundee

Microbiologists from CLS introduce kids, parents and teachers to the world of "Magnificent Microbes!"

16 Nov 2010

School students and members of the public attended a two-day event on 21 and 22 May 2010: a hands-on science experience for school children and the general public held at local science centre Sensation at which microbiologists from the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee invited visitors to discover the wondrous world of Magnificent Microbes.

Although most microbes are invisible to the naked eye, our bodies contain millions of them, they help shape our environment, and we use them without knowing it everyday.

Magnificent Microbes aimed to use fun and interesting activities to make children and adults alike aware of how fascinating microbes, such as bacteria and fungi, really are.

Among the little known facts about these little 'creatures' are that:

  • Ants can use the bacteria on that live on their bodies to produce their own antibiotics.
  • Bacteria can be used to fight pollution.
  • Like something from a sci-fi film, microbes can glow in the dark.
  • Lots of commonly consumed food and drink products are made using fungi or bacteria.

Visitors took part in a range of interactive activities, talked to experts from the College’s Division of Molecular Microbiology, and viewed the exhibitions on display.

Dr Nicola Stanley Wall, a lecturer in microbiology at the University and main organizer of the event said, “Response from students and teachers has been tremendous.”

“The event was fab!” was the response from a teacher from Ardler Primary School. Teachers and students were equally enthusiastic in their feedback, many saying they felt that what they had observed and learned had enhanced their appreciation of the curriculum. Students also said that the entire event had broadened their understanding of the range of jobs that involve science and microbiology.

When asked why the event had been such a success, Professor Stanley-Wall said, “it was a very interactive event: children were able to run their own experiments and download the results online. Also we were able to highlight all the things in their everyday lives, which they don’t normally link to science – food, fungus, fuel and fun.”

The first day of the event hosted around 180 primary seven pupils from Ardler, Fintry, St Pius, Clepington, St Clements and Blackness Primary Schools, while an open day for the general public took place the following day.