Are Microbes Alive?

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In this activity (on pages 19-21 of the PDF) learners observe mold growing on potatoes. Preparation for this activity has to start a week before, to allow time for the mold to grow on the potatoes. During the activity, students use hand lenses to get a closer view of the mold, and then look at magnified images of different microbes from suggested online sites.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 7 days

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1/4 inch slice of raw potato
  • 1 resealable plastic sandwich bag
  • hand lenses
  • Images of microbes (downloaded from Web sites listed on Page 21 of PDF)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Protists and Fungi


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


Funding Source:

  • NASA, NAG5-13028