Journal class

Briarcliff seventh grade students create designs using live bacteria

Usually, E. coli bacteria are dangerous to humans, but did you know that they can be bioengineered to be used safely in schools?

Students from seventh to Jessica Loprienoit is Briarcliff College the science class painted with bio-engineered E. coli bacteria on petri dishes to create cool designs. The materials for this activity have been purchased as a kit designed for students in grades K-12 to learn how bacteria grow, in a safe way.

“The goal of the activity was to manipulate and grow colorful bio-modified bacteria,” Ms. Loprieno said.

In class, students learned about reproduction and the fact that bacteria reproduce much faster in warmer temperatures.

The students used “palettes”, which were petri dishes of three colors: purple, cyan or magenta.

Working in groups of four, students began by sketching their designs on blank stencil cards. They then placed a larger blank petri dish over the stencil as their “canvas”. Using yellow inoculation loops, students painted the art they had sketched by dipping the colored bacteria from the small dishes and tracing the image.

“The yellow inoculation loops transferred the stained bacteria to the ‘web,’ as they are typically used for culturing bacteria,” Loprieno said. “Students picked up a bit of bacteria in each of the colors to transfer to the blank Petri dish,” Ms. Loprieno said.

The drawings cannot be seen right away, as the large petri dishes must be incubated for 24 to 72 hours and stored at 37 degrees Celsius.

“As the bacteria bloom and grow, within a day or two, students will begin to see their creations,” Ms. Loprieno said. “They drew things like donuts and goldfish, so it’ll be really cool to see the end result.”