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Name: Doug
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1993

Can you suggest hands-on activities at the 5th grade level dealing with fungus, protist, or monerans?

I do not know much about this. I enjoyed looking at Volvox, a colonial protoctist alga that is common in pond water (at least in the summer). I will bet you can buy it from a biology supply company. A microscope is almost a necessity for enjoying these creatures, though. I also liked looking at Pseudomonas, a bacterium which, among other things, helps lettuce rot. You would need at least 200x magnification for them. A very simple activity would be to purchase mushrooms from the supermarket and examine them closely or under a dissecting microscope. Most kids are aghast to learn that mushrooms are actually fruiting bodies of fungal colonies! Another idea, which may require a bit more preparation, is to prepare a culture plate, grow bacteria from dust around the classroom, skin scrapings, etc. To make culture plates, buy sterilized plastic plates from a science supply company. Also buy a culture medium preparation, such as triptych soy agar, and follow the instructions on how to prepare it. Or, to make your own medium, make up some plain Jello gelatin with thick chicken broth. Pour the solutions into the plastic plates and allow the gelatin or agar to solidify. Try to keep the lids on the plates to prevent air bacteria contamination. (Actually leaving a plate with its cover off to collect air bacteria could be interesting too - to see how much bacteria is in the air.)

Jim Murray

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