Earlier this year, Statham Elementary 5th Grade students in Laura Payne’s science classes took their study of cells parts and microorganisms to amazing new levels by conducting a DNA-extraction experiment and hosting a seminar from Myriam Belanger, the Director of the UGA Genomics Facility.  By building on state life science standards S5L3* and S5L4**, Dr. Belanger and the students discussed educational pathways that can lead to a career in microbiology.  Then, elaborating on careers in the field of microbiology, Dr. Belanger shared some details about the kind of research that takes place at her UGA facility, and described the wide a variety of duties and responsibilities that microbiologists have there.

Belanger Pic 2

In the second half of the seminar, students learned about some very specific beneficial microorganisms that can impact their day to day lives.  There are some that help keep the fish alive in their aquariums, some that make bread delicious, and some that even make it possible to go snow skiing in Georgia when its too warm outside for snow.  Finally, in the hands on portion, students were able to use real equipment from the Genomics facility to practice some of the specific sampling and piping techniques employed by the researchers there.

Belanger pic 6

We thank Dr. Belanger for being such a great STEAMmate, and look forward to the bright futures of these 5th grade microbiologists.

Video Archive of Dr. Belanger’s Seminar

Dr. Belanger’s Presentation Slides 

* S5L3. Students will diagram and label parts of various cells (plant, animal, single-celled, multi-celled).

a. Use magnifiers such as microscopes or hand lenses to observe cells and their structure.

b. Identify parts of a plant cell (membrane, wall, cytoplasm, nucleus, chloroplasts) and of an animal cell (membrane, cytoplasm, and nucleus) and determine the function of the parts.

c. Explain how cells in multi-celled organisms are similar and different in structure and function to single-celled organisms.

** S5L4. Students will relate how microorganisms benefit or harm larger organisms.

a. Identify beneficial microorganisms and explain why they are beneficial.

b. Identify harmful microorganisms and explain why they are harmful.