Microbes are Everywhere

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this four-day activity, learners grow bacteria and/or fungi from a variety of locations and compare the results. They will learn that microbes are everywhere; some such as bacteria and fungi grow readily on sources of food and water. This lesson guide includes background information, safety considerations, and extensions.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 750 mL of nutrient agar (purchase as powder or bottled agar gel)
  • 33 100-mm sterile, disposable Petri dishes (to prepare 30 dishes with agar and 3 dishes for templates for student drawings)
  • 36 small, resealable plastic bags
  • Chlorine bleach solution
  • Cotton swabs, 100 count box
  • Disinfectant (liquid soap or spray)
  • Hot pads or pot holders
  • Paper towels
  • Resealable plastic bag, medium-size
  • Container of distilled or boiled water
  • Magnifiers or low power microscopes
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent marker or wax pencil
  • Colored pencils or markers
  • 12 sheets of white paper for observations (3 per learner)
  • Graph or plain paper
  • Group concept map (ongoing, if available)


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
    • Diversity of Life
      • Viruses and Bacteria
      • Protists and Fungi
      • Classification
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
      • Medicine
      • Immune System
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Moreno, Nancy P. ; Tharp, Barbara Z. ; Erdmann, Deanne B. ; Clayton, Sonia Rahmati ; Denk, James P.


  • All rights reserved, Baylor College of Medicine, 2008

Funding Source:

  • Science Education Partnership Award, 5R25 RR018605