The Tiny Truth About Germs

The cover photo for this post is a microscopic image of fungi, courtesy Fernando Santos and FEI.

With stories about Ebola consuming our newsfeeds these days, it’s probably been hard to avoid discussing the outbreak with your students. But as new cases are discovered and treated, is there anything else to talk about? What questions are emerging from your classroom?

One way to continue the conversation is to talk about the one thing that all germs have in common—their size! Think about it: Your students probably have an understanding that little things can cause them to become upset—like a splinter or a paper cut or seeing a spider or a bee. But do they have an understanding about the little things that can cause worldwide panic?

misunderstood

Video copyright 2013 National Geographic Entertainment

This clip from the National Geographic film Mysteries of the Unseen World (currently in theaters), explains what all pesky things like bacteria and viruses have in common: microscopic size. Your students may be surprised that even stinky feet have their own microbes to blame!

Switch gears from talking about the ugly aspects of viruses to explaining that not all microbes are harmful to humans. This clip, Misunderstood Microbes, helps combat misconceptions about the microscopic organisms that live on our bodies. This may provide some relief to those students who are more sensitive to the topic. National Geographic Education‘s Mysteries of the Unseen World collection contains even more videos and activities about microscopic creatures and the technology used to see them. It even has information on the science of nanotechnology, which allows us to view even tinier unseen things.

The National Geographic film Mysteries of the Unseen World gives viewers a glimpse of the things we cannot see—things that may pass us by on a daily basis. The film takes us on a journey so that we can explore things that are too small, too slow or too fast to see; it also explores the facets of invisible light. Click here to find a theater where the film is playing near you! Don’t forget to also check out our own Mysteries of the Unseen World resources for activities, videos, (and even the world’s smallest movie) about the technology scientists use to study and discover the unseen world.

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo Movies: Mysteries of the Unseen World

Nat Geo Movies:  Mysteries of the Unseen World photo album

NG EducationMysteries of the Unseen World Collection

NG Education blogChemists Look Close for the Nobel

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