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A Day in the Life: Exploring Biomanufacturing Careers

Lesson 1: What are Microbes? Why are Microbes important in Biotechnology?


Microbes are living things that must be greatly magnified to be seen. Microbes can be bacteria, fungi and viruses. In biotechnology and biomanufacturing, these tiny, living cells are like miniature chemical factories that produce products such as amino acids, medicines, enzymes and food additives. In this lesson, students will learn the conditions that are required for yeast cells to grow. They will learn how to perform an important laboratory skill known as serial dilutions. They will use serial dilutions to dilute a yeast cell sample in order to culture it on media. Students will also learn aseptic techniques and observe living yeast cells on slides that they prepare.

Learning Objectives

  • Perform Serial Dilutions
  • Use sterile techniques when handling media
  • Observe cells under the microscope

North Carolina Standard Course of Study (NCSCOS):

Competencies and Objectives from Exploring Biotechnology

  • EB 3.01 Analyze the use of equipment and materials and apply rules for safety in the laboratory.

Competencies and Objectives from 8th Grade Science

  • 1.04 Analyze variables in scientific investigations
  • 1.05 Analyze evidence to: Explain observations. Make inferences and predictions. Develop the relationship between evidence and explanation.
  • 7.01 Compare and contrast microbes
    • Size, shape, structure.
    • Whether they are living cells.

Classroom Time Required

This lesson will take four, forty five minute class periods. Each activity takes one class period to complete.

Materials needed

Each activity contains a chart of the materials that are needed for that activity.


Each activity lists any pre-activities or demonstrations that should be conducted.


The teacher may wish to load the Power Point presentation on a website or local school server and have the students navigate the lesson independently for homework in order to save class time.

The teacher may want to add narration to the Power Point if students are working independently in order to better assist students with reading disabilities.

If lab equipment and supplies are limited, the teacher may wish to conduct the experiments as a classroom demonstration.

File Links for support material

Activity 1-1: Class Review: Microbiology and Yeast Cell Fermentation Power Point
Class Review: Microbiology and Yeast Cell Fermentation Cornell Notes
Activity 1- 2: Pre Lab: Serial Dilution Practice Power Point
Pre Lab: Serial Dilution Practice Student Answer Sheet
Pre Lab: Serial Dilution Practice Answer Key
Activity 1-3, 4: Lab: Culturing Yeast Cells on Media Power Point
Lab: Culturing Yeast Cells on Media/Making a Wet Mount Slide and Observing Yeast Cells under the Microscope Student Answer Sheet