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In this long-term activity, learners make a home for a colorful community of microorganisms. Over the course of several weeks or more, learners will see colors appear and shift as the microbial populations grow and change. There is an optional to spot photosynthesizing bacteria using a UV flashlight. This activity is based on a museum exhibit at the Exploratorium, and includes a link to a video that showcases the exhibit up-close.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:



  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Metabolism
    • Diversity of Life
      • Viruses and Bacteria
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Biodiversity


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access