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Quantifying Marine Microbes: A Simulation to Introduce Random Sampling

Source Institutions

    American Society for Microbiology

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Quantifying Marine Microbes: A Simulation to Introduce Random Sampling

Colored beads in a bag are used to represent different types of microbes, with the bag itself representing the ocean. Working in groups, each learner randomly samples ten “microbes” from the “ocean,” and records the data. To learn about the inherent variability of random sampling, the learner then compares the composition of their individual samples, their group’s pooled sample data, and that of the entire population. Introduce this lesson by reading and talking about the diversity of marine microbes.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

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


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Viruses and Bacteria
      • Protists and Fungi
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
  • Mathematics
    • Number and Operations
      • Fractions

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • 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

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Bruno, Barbara; Tice, Kimberly; Achilles, Kate; Matsuzaki, Joan


  • All Rights Reserved, American Society for Microbiology, ©2012


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