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Microbiology Project Ideas

Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail This is a straightforward project on glucose metabolism in yeast. You'll grow yeast under aerobic and anaerobic conditions and measure carbon dioxide output to assess metabolic efficiency. Read more
MicroBio_p009
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Ultraviolet light can damage DNA molecules. If a cell's DNA repair mechanisms can't keep up with the damage, mutations are the result. As harmful mutations accumulate, the cell eventually dies. How much ultraviolet light is too much for a bacterial cell? Read more
MicroBio_p017
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites To do this project, you will need access to a laboratory with facilities for culturing bacteria. You should be familiar with sterile technique and proper handling of bacterial cultures.
Material Availability Specialty items
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Adult supervision required. Read and follow the safety note below on ultraviolet light. Follow standard precautions for handling bacterial cultures.
Science Fair Project Idea
Disinfectants are products that kill harmful bacteria that inhabit surfaces. Disinfectants can be in household and personal cleaning products. Which products work best? Compare different household cleaning products, like bleach or Lysol, to see which ones kill the most bacteria. Compare different brands of antibacterial hand soap or dish soap to see which brand is the most effective. How do hand sanitizers work? Compare rub-on hand sanitizers to see if they work better than alcohol, or compare… Read more
MicroBio_p020
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Knowledge about growing and testing bacteria
Material Availability Specialty items, like bacteria and the media to grow them on, can be ordered from [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ApprovedSuppliers" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="online vendors" #] such as [# Link Name="Advanced.ApprovedSuppliers.2" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="Carolina Biological Supply Company" #].
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Follow all safety warnings printed on the cleaning solutions you are using. Read the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicroorganismsSafetyGuide" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlShortTitle="true" #] before starting any experiments. Adult supervision is recommended. [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ScientificReviewCommitteeSRC" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="SRC approval" #] may be necessary.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever wondered if a piece of jewelry is real gold or if it's just some ordinary metal alloy? It turns out that some metals have a unique property; even in small amounts, they can be toxic to some organisms, including algae, molds, fungi, and bacteria, although it often takes many hours to see an effect. Can this phenomena, called the oligodynamic effect be used to tell whether or not the gold or silver in a piece of jewelry is real? Do bacteria react differently to pure, plated, and… Read more
MicroBio_p026
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science fair project requires access to some laboratory equipment, such as a 37°C incubator, a Bunsen burner, as well as some specialty reagents, which can be ordered online. It also requires several pieces of jewelry, including at least one 14-karat gold piece. See the Materials and Equipment list for more details.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety This science fair project involves the use of the bacterium E. coli. Standard microbiology and bacterial safety guidelines should be followed. See the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicroorganismsSafetyGuide" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlShortTitle="true" #] for more details. Projects using bacteria may require pre-approval from your science fair's [# Link Name="MicroBio_p026.1" Value="HtmlAnchor" #]. To maintain a sterile environment, you will be working near a lighted Bunsen burner. Keep all flammables, including hair and clothing, away from the flame.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever thought about how fortunate you are to have safe and clean water coming out of your faucet? Many people in undeveloped nations don't have this luxury. But does that mean they can't have clean water at all? Is there an inexpensive way they could use to make their own clean water? In this microbiology science fair project, you will investigate whether or not sunlight can disinfect contaminated water. Read more
MicroBio_p025
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites You should have access to a local stream or creek.
Material Availability Specialty items are required. You will need to purchase tryptic soy agar plates, droppers, and glass rods for streaking. See the Materials and Equipment section, below, for more details.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety This science fair project deals with potentially dangerous pathogens. Wear gloves when conducting the experiment. Read and follow the instructions in the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicroorganismsSafetyGuide" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlShortTitle="true" #]. Do not drink any of the water that results from the SODIS process. See the Experimental Procedure for more information. You should always exercise caution when obtaining a water sample from a creek or a stream.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail The Pilobolus fungus has an interesting way of making sure the next generation has a good start on life. At high speed, the fungus shoots a sac that contains spores toward a light source. Why toward a light source? Because that is where it is most likely to find an open area with grass. Once the spore is placed on grass, it is eaten by a cow or a horse, which is a critical step in its life cycle. The spore passes through the animal's digestive track and ends up in a pile of manure. For a fungal… Read more
MicroBio_p027
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites Note: Pilobolus is grown on rabbit dung embedded in plain agar. A strong stomach is a prerequisite for working with this culture.
Material Availability You will need to order a Pilobolus culture kit online. See the Materials and Equipment list for details. You should work with your teacher to have the kit delivered to your teacher at school, since there are restrictions on sending it to a residential address.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever heard that nanoparticles can kill bacteria? You may have even seen some consumer products advertise that they contain antibacterial nanoparticles. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter long. Nanoparticles are usually just a few nanometers in diameter — really, really tiny! So how can something that small kill bacteria which are approximately 700 - 1400 nanometers across? Are they really effective? In this science project you will grow some E. coli bacteria and… Read more
MicroBio_p031
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites You should be familiar with sterile technique and proper handling of bacterial cultures. If you have questions or need a refresher please consult the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicrobiologyTechniquesampTroubleshooting" Value="HtmlAnchor" #] guide
Material Availability Some materials need to be special ordered; see the Materials and Equipment list for details
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety You must follow general safety precautions for handling microorganisms. See the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicroorganismsSafetyGuide" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlShortTitle="true" #] for details.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever wondered where acne comes from and how you can treat it? One major cause of acne is the colonization and infection of clogged pores with bacteria. In this science project, you'll test different acne medications and treatments to determine their effectiveness at killing bacteria. Read more
MicroBio_p019
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science project requires access to some laboratory equipment, such as a 37°C incubator, as well as some specialty reagents, which can be ordered online. See the Materials and Equipment list for more details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety This science project involves the use of the bacterium E. coli. Standard microbiology and bacterial safety guidelines should be followed, see the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicroorganismsSafetyGuide" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlShortTitle="true" #] for more details. To maintain a sterile environment, you will be working near a lighted Bunsen burner. Keep all flammables, including hair and clothing, away from the flame.
Science Fair Project Idea
Antibiotics work by destabilizing the metabolism or cellular structure of bacteria, preventing growth, and causing bacteria to die. Some strains of bacteria have mutated and found a way to resist the actions of antibiotics. These are called resistant strains because they resist the actions of available antibiotic treatments. There are many different types of antibiotics that are continually being developed to combat new strains of resistant bacteria. Some antibiotics work better on different… Read more
MicroBio_p021
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites This project requires access to bacteria and antibiotics in a laboratory setting. A basic knowledge of how to work with bacteria is needed to complete this science fair project. Consult the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicrobiologyTechniquesampTroubleshooting" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="Microbiology Techniques and Troubleshooting" #] guide for information on how to conduct microbiology experiments.
Material Availability Specialty items, like bacteria and the media to grow them on, can be ordered from [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ApprovedSuppliers" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="online vendors" #] such as [# Link Name="Advanced.ApprovedSuppliers.2" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="Carolina Biological Supply Company" #].
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety Requires adult supervision in a laboratory setting. Use sterile technique. Read the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicroorganismsSafetyGuide" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlShortTitle="true" #] before starting any experiments. [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ScientificReviewCommitteeSRC" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="SRC approval" #] may be necessary.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Most people are not aware that the soil around them is a battle scene. The combatants are very small—bacteria on one side and bacteriophage on the other. The bacteriophage (or phage for short) try to pierce the outer coats of the bacteria and inject them with phage DNA. If successful, the DNA will take over the inner machinery of the bacterial cells and force them to make many copies of the phage. After the copies are made, the bacterial cells break apart, releasing new phage that start… Read more
MicroBio_p029
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites This is an advanced science project that requires access to a laboratory with a water bath and 37°C incubator. The kit you will use has enough supplies to perform the procedure one time. To repeat the procedure, you should order additional supplies (listed in the Materials and Equipment section), or make your own media and agar plates. Working with a science teacher or other mentor who is familiar with growing bacteria and titering phage would be helpful.
Material Availability You will need to order the bacteria, the phage, and the supplies from an online science supply store. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety The bacteria (E. coli B) and the phage (T4r) are not dangerous, but you should follow common-sense safety guidelines and wear gloves and safety goggles when working in the lab. Adult supervision is recommended.
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