Microorganisms are all around us, with an amazing diversity of adaptations. They were the first life on Earth, and their relatively recent discovery in extreme environments—like hot springs, ocean vents, and polar ice—illustrates how tenaciously they've evolved and survived. Microbiology gives us insights into evolution, disease, and even the mechanisms of our own cells.

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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
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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
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This project uses liquid cultures and agar plates to investigate the effects of different concentrations of a food preservative on microbial growth. Read more
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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
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Have you heard that garlic powder is supposed to inhibit the growth of bacteria? Which do you think would make a better disinfectant: a solution of garlic powder or a solution of bleach? This project shows you a straightforward way to compare the effectiveness of different disinfectants (or other antimicrobial agents), by measuring zones of inhibition on a culture plate. Read more
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There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh-baked bread to make your mouth water! As any baker can tell you, you cannot bake bread without yeast. Yeast actually eat sugar so that they can reproduce and make more yeast, and make bread dough rise. But can they use sugar substitutes to do this? In this science project you will get to investigate how well yeast grow with sugar substitutes as a food source. Pass the butter, please! Read more
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Have you ever wondered how yogurt is made and what makes some yogurts different from other yogurts? You may have noticed that most yogurt containers advertise that the yogurt contains "live cultures." This means that there are living bacteria in the yogurt! These amazing bacteria can turn plain old milk into a yummy yogurt treat. In this science project, you will investigate whether the bacteria affect what the yogurt feels, tastes, and smells like by making your own yogurt at home! Read more
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While looking at a package of dry yeast it is hard to believe that the package has organisms in it that are alive. But add the right ingredients and presto, the mixture becomes a bubbly, oozing, mess of life! What are the right ingredients? What does that yeast need to become active? Do this science project and figure it out for yourself! Read more
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This is a project that illustrates the process of natural selection in action. You'll need access to a laboratory for working with the bacterial cultures used in this project. Read more
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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
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Free science fair projects.