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Thursday April 11, 2019 at 4:08pm Age: 100 days
Category: High School, District


From concerns over antibiotic resistance to outbreaks of previously controlled viral diseases, bacteria and viruses are increasingly the subject of primetime news.

Researchers are racing against time to stop these dangerous trends, and Minisink juniors and seniors in Kimberly Jordan's college biology 102 might soon be part of the solution. 

Their latest STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) project was dedicated to the study of bacteria and viruses, and their power to impact us, for better or worse. Following an applied-learning approach that connects students with the real world, they researched a bacterium of their choice, the tests used to identify it, and the conditions for treating a specific bacterium.

“Both bacteria and viruses can cause raging ailments that require intensive medical care,” Sean Allen said. “Over the past weeks, we covered some of the most powerful and frightening members of these categories of life.”

For Victoria Burger, this new knowledge was more fascinating than alarming. “Viruses and bacteria have such a huge influence on our lives, but most of us know so little about them. It was amazing to learn what's really going on when you get sick," Victoria said. 

A related lesson discussed MRSAs (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Living on the surface of our skin, the same staphylococcus bacteria that keep others under control and help prevent rashes, sores or infections, can also wreak havoc if they enter our body through a cut, wound or scrape.

“I gained a better appreciation for the doctors and the scientists that work hard to find cures for life-threatening pathogens that can enter my body,” Casey Burnett said. “But not all bacteria is bad and some are very beneficial to society.”

Viruses were studied as a separate, shorter unit that explored how some scientists are are using viruses to help kill bacteria, and as an alternative to antibiotics. 

“Learning about bacteriophage treatment taught me about in-depth science and how little we still know about treating viruses,” Virginia Terminello said. “I really enjoyed hearing about the studies that are being done in Tbilisi, Georgia, and their impact on ordinary people." 

Some students were especially drawn to the visual and creative aspects of the project. "I am so glad that Mrs. Jordan brought the creativity of painting into learning biology,” Bethany carpenter observed. “It really helped me grasp the bacteria I was studying.”