University of Dundee

Microbiology for pre-Schoolers!: MMB researchers work with some very young scientists

16 May 2012

 Microbiology and the Curriculum for Excellence – Health and Well-Being

The curriculum for excellence aims to provide a coherent, flexible and enriched curriculum for people aged 3-18 in Scotland. It is split into four areas with one covering “Health and well-being”. As a basic understanding of microbiology is fundamental to good health, Drs. Nicola Stanley, Emma Compton, Sarah Coulthurst and James Cargill, from the Division of Molecular Microbiology, teamed up with early years’ workers to enhance the learning experiences of over 40 children from Fife and Dundee.

The pre-schoolers (age 3-5) were involved at all stages of the outreach sessions. In preparation for a visit by the scientists to the nursery, the early years’ workers asked the children what they knew, and more importantly, what they would like to know about “germs”. The visit by the scientists was then tailored to addressing their questions which included “Does our (pet) fish have germs?” and “How do germs make us sick? During the time that the scientists spent with the children, they asked ask all sorts of questions and did small experiments to allow them to discover where “germs” live and why they should wash their hands after the toilet and before eating. They were even able to see how far the “germs” from a pretend sneeze could be spread using a special lotion and a UV light.

After the children received the results of their “microbial” printing experiments, the early years’ workers used the photographs as a talking point for future lessons during which the children created their own microbes!

The activities involved, and helped to train one Ph.D. medically-trained student and one postdoctoral scientist.