High school students (grades 9-11) will have an exciting time exploring the diverse world of microbes. They will participate in the collection and isolations of organisms from a variety of common sources, and learn about the ones that cause disease and threaten our very existence. They will also study some of the epidemiological techniques used to investigate their identity, transmission, relationship to each other, and the diseases they cause. Along the way, students will gain an appreciation for some of the microbes that are beneficial to society in terms of industrial applications and artistic inspirations.
Where can we find microbes and how do we study them? Students will encounter the same level of surprise and excitement experienced by the scientific community when they saw the diversity of microorganisms for the first time.
What is an epidemic and what happens when we do get sick? We will use a few short lectures to understand what an epidemic is and learn about a few of the epidemics in the past. We will simulate epidemics that arise from different transmission methods and will also appreciate the importance of a carrier.
How do we know what is causing an epidemic? We all enjoy the movies where there is an outbreak and subsequent spread of a mysterious disease. Quickly, the questions that need answering are, "What is causing the disease?" or "Where did the disease causing organism come from?" and "How is it spreading through the population?" We will use mathematics and a few molecular biology techniques involving the amplification of DNA to answer these questions.