Review of: A Selected Set of Non-Technical Online Microbial Resources. by: Heather M. Seitz
As Microbiology professors, we all know how fun microbiology can be! However, many people, including students, do not always see the fun in our profession.
Here are reviews of some great websites that let you play and have fun with microbiology. The websites described below are fun, engaging, and at the same time promote microbiology in an entertaining way. These websites are not just amusing but can also be a source of engagement for our students who enjoy music, art, comics, and games.
- The music at Food Safety Music includes songs about all kinds of food-borne pathogens and the site also includes funny video animations to go with each song. My personal favorite is “Don’t Get Sicky Wit It.” Another great microbiology song and video that I laugh at each time I see it is the “A-Z of Epidemiology”. These songs are fun to listen to, make me laugh, and sometimes shock my friends. I like to put them on to entertain the students as they come into class each day.
- Giantmicrobes website is suitable for those who would rather play than listen. This website has plush toys in the shape of many common pathogens; they make great office décor and are always there when you just need to cuddle.
- When you need a good laugh, there are a number of sites that have comics about microbiology. Some of my favorites are Cartoon Stock and Microbiology and Cells. These sites are a great place to have a chuckle and to find that opening comic for a lecture that shows just how funny microbes can be.
- Microbial Art website is a great website that has wonderful pictures of bacteria as art is. The Microbial Art website has amazing pictures and animations of actual bacterial and fungal plates.
These are great to illustrate colony diversity and microbial growth characteristics. If you show students the website it may even inspire them to create their own art.
Gaming is another area that faculty and students alike enjoy. Also, using gaming has been shown to be an effective and easy way to get students engaged in and actually enjoying microbiology. There are lots of wonderful microbiology games; unfortunately, I have the space to mention only a few.
Pandemic 2 is a great game that allows students to design and enhance a microbe to infect and kill the human population on earth.
Although the premise is grim, faculty will love the options and obstacles that are presented in the game to teach students about transmissibility, virulence, and public health policy. Another great microbiology game is Microbe Kombat. In this game, the player is in charge of eating, growing bigger, and then eating the competing microbes. It is a fun game that touches on the concepts of microbial growth, division, and survival strategies. Lastly, a game called The Great Flu is a great way to introduce the costs and benefits of public health strategies. In The Great Flu, one selects a strain of the virus and then employs measures to keep the virus from spreading all across the world. Each action you take, however, has a cost similar to that in real life—and also as in real life, you only have a limited amount of “money” to spend.
By having fun with our subject and showing students how interesting microbiology can be in this lighthearted way, we can increase student engagement. Besides, what better way to enjoy a quiet office hour than to test out a microbiology video game!
Heather M. Seitz Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS
This article was published in the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education first time.