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Lesson Plans
Backyard Bacteria

Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

How would you feel if you went to the doctor with a simple infection and the usual antibiotics didn't work...or the stronger antibiotics didn't work or if no antibiotic worked? PBS' innovative RX FOR SURVIVAL series explores this very topic in the episode "Rise of the Superbugs." Using the Rx for Survival Web site and other Web-based resources, as well as watching the six-part Rx for Survival program, students will study bacteria and how they can become resistant to different anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers. In this lesson, students will also learn how to safely culture bacteria, how to handle them properly, and how to manipulate conditions to make some samples resistant to common cleaning agents. Then, having developed an understanding of how resistance can develop, the students will explore how unintentional misuse of antibiotics can lead to the real rise of superbugs.

Grade Level:
Grades 7 to 9

Time Allotment:
four or five 40-minute periods

Subject Matter:
Life Science, Health

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate safe ways to handle bacteria
  • Prepare agar plates
  • Grow bacterial cultures
  • Identify different kinds of bacterial colonies
  • Devise a controlled experiment

From the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (MCREL): The 4th edition of Content Knowledge available on-line at:
This lesson was prepared by: Robert Berwick