Microscopic Life Around Us

The microscopic life around us module is a field laboratory that allows students to experience the abundant microbial life in nearby aqueous natural habitats. Students are introduced to the diversity of organisms that exist in something as seemingly simple as a drop of water, using basic keys to identify some of the more common inhabitants. Students can also collect non-aqueous material like hay or twigs, and examine flora and fauna that emerges when the objects are placed in water or various media. A more sophisticated version of the lab involves comparing the abundance and variety of life forms from various water sources, and relating differences to possible environmental factors. For example, samples from ponds treated to eliminate algae or temporary run-off ponds from agricultural sites might be compared to relatively pristine ponds or lakes, or the variation in standing versus rapidly running water examined. Students are encouraged to be creative in examining the world around them. The lab is designed to foster student interest and involvement in scientific inquiry.

Lake water organisms

Module Protocols

Elementary, Middle/High School

Relevant Concepts

Survey of the diversity of life; Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells; Interdependence in Nature; Ecosystems and Relationships between Organisms; Species Variation

Next Generation Science Standards Relationships

High School: HS-LS2-1 | HS-LS2-6 | HS-LS4-4

Middle School: MS-LS1-1 | MS-LS4-4

Elementary School: 1-LS1-1 | 3-LS1-1 | 4-LS1-1 | 3-LS3-2 | 2-LS4-1| 3-LS4-2 | 3-LS4-3 | 3-LS4-4

NYS Science Curriculum Guideline Relationships

Key Ideas 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 4.1 | 4.5 | 4.6 | 4.7