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.
Did you know that a scientific study has shown that chewing Big Red Gum reduces mouth microbes? (ScienceDaily contributors, 2004) The cinnamon oil in the gum is a natural defense against mouth bacteria that cause tooth decay and bad breath. Conduct an experiment to compare products with cinnamon essence in gum, candy, toothpaste, and mouthwash to see if they can decrease mouth germs. Do a before and after swab of the mouth with a Q-tip. Which treatments work the best? Can you find another…
How does your family thaw and cook meat? Have you ever wondered if it is the safest way? In this practical science project, you can find out and shed light on safe practices in the kitchen by investigating how many viable bacteria are present in samples of meat that have been thawed or cooked using different methods.
What do pneumonia, ear infections and strep throat have in common? When they are caused by bacteria (instead of viruses) they are treated by antibiotics. That sounds simple enough, right? You have probably had antibiotics several times in your life. You go to the doctor because you feel lousy, if he or she determines you have a bacterial infection you get a prescription for antibiotics, and within the first day or so you often start feeling much better. Unfortunately, there is a large…
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…
Have you ever wondered how X-rays affect living organisms? You have probably had X-rays taken at the dentist's or
doctor's office. These X-rays are considered to be relatively safe, but every X-ray exposes a person to some radiation,
specifically electromagnetic radiation. Radiation is energy that travels through space as either waves or high speed
particles. Watch this video to learn more about electromagnetic radiation.
In this biology science fair project, you will observe how the Physarum polycephalum (P. polycephalum) organism responds to various amounts of glucose. P. polycephalum is easy to grow in a petri dish and responds in complex ways to its environment. Will it grow toward the chemical as it looks for a meal, or will it flee, trying to avoid further contact? Try this science fair project to learn more about chemotaxis in the fascinating Physarum polycephalum.