IB MYP Biology Students Search for Mutant Bacteria!
This week, Clemente freshmen discovered a disgusting truth: the world is covered in bacteria! In the past few weeks, students have learned that the world’s bacteria weigh more than all the plants, animals, and humans combined. In order to further their knowledge of these increasingly important microorganisms, students investigated an International Baccalaureate set of standards to set out to find a particularly scary type of bacteria, which is called resistant mutant bacteria.
In order to connect this exploration into their previous studies of evolution and natural selection, students learned how bacteria has changed over time, often as a result of human intervention and with deadly consequences. The preceding weeks saw students competing for food wearing different mutations to simulate natural selection and studying a wide variety of animal adaptations like the pistol shrimp’s claw or the hairy frog’s ability to break its own bones to form claws. They concluded the week by attending a field trip to the Shedd Aquarium to observe and analyze how different traits might help an animal get food, a mate, or protection from predators.
Through different web tools, articles, and role-playing activities, students learned about mutations that allow bacteria to be resistant to the medicines we use to treat them. They used this knowledge to discuss the consequences of human interference with evolution. When we kill all of the normal bacteria with antibiotics, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning supplies, we leave behind those bacteria that have mutated to resist these weapons. In order to further their understanding of these processes, students used petri dishes and cotton swabs to collect bacteria from different areas in the school. Using different types of antibiotics, students then tried to limit the growth of the bacteria. The results were both fascinating and terrifying. Through close observation, students discovered bacteria growing close to, or even on top of, the antibiotics meant to kill them. Students ultimately made suggestions for how humans should deal with these resistant bacteria in the future to avoid global disasters of untreatable diseases. Thanks to Clemente students’ caring and inquisitive minds, the human race has a fighting chance!