Make a microbe

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Work experience student Eilidh from Madras College, St Andrews, has been making microbes for us!

Eilidh used our “Bacteria shapes and names” learners sheet as a starting point to build model bacteria out of pom-poms, lollipop sticks and pipecleaners!

There are three main shapes of bacteria – round, rod-shaped and spiral. These shapes have Latin names. This means that scientists and the public all around the world know they are talking about the same bacteria even though they may speak different everyday languages.

Round bacteria are “coccus”; rod-shaped bacteria are “bacillus” and spiral bacteria often have “spir” in their names. By adding prefixes such as “diplo” (two), “strepto” (chain) and “staphlo” (cluster), we can describe the shapes that the bacteria take. The word “flagellum” means tail. If you see “flagellum” of “flagella” (tails), you know that the bacteria has one or more tails.

Can you make a model microbe? Look at the microbes that Eilidh made then make and share your microbes with us!

Round “coccus” bacteria

Eilidh’s models of the different “coccus” round bacteria

Rod-shaped “bacillus” bacteria

Eilidh’s models of the different “bacillus” rod-shaped bacteria

Spiral bacteria

Eilidh’s models of the different types of spiral bacteria