Five activities will be used to provide a platform for teaching this unit. The students will grow plants from a variety of seeds, develop an aquatic habitat and build a terrarium, create and maintain an underground worm environment and an ant colony or farm. As scientists, the students will make observations and learn about organisms, including microorganisms, through inquiry and hands-on experiences and participation in these examples of life. Science journals will allow them to track and report the scientific findings while observing these five environments and to express different ways the organisms sustain life. How are they breathing? Eating? There will be an obvious connection to human life as well. First graders learn best through concrete experiences and connections to themselves.
Learning that microbes are part of their daily lives gives an experiential connection for them, such as acidophilus in yogurt, yeast in bread dough, scrubbing bubbles in the bathtub, and even beneficial microbes in our soil. The microbial world includes microbes in foods, medicines people take when sick or with fever, microbes that live inside our digestive tracts, microbes on the skin, as well as another favorite spot for microbes to hang out, biofilms on teeth!
Microorganisms are important to life on Earth, living in all parts of the biosphere where there is water, acting as decomposers in various ecosystems and playing a vital role in the nitrogen cycle. Different types of microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, types of algae and plankton. Microorganisms exist in many different places and often where you don't expect, they make their home on food, plants, humans and lots of other living things. Bacteria live in decaying leaves, diseased cells/tissues (even pimples) and moldy fruit. There are different types of microorganisms, some are helpful and some that are harmful.