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Facts About Germs: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

Germs are tiny, invisible invaders that are all around us, but did you know that not all germs are bad? Learn about helpful germs, what germs are, what germs do and the four different types of germs in this lesson.

What is a Germ?

When you hear the word ''germ,'' do you think of bugs or dirt? Germs are more like bugs than dirt because they are microorganisms, or tiny living things. In fact, most germs are so tiny that you need a powerful microscope to see them. Because they are so small, germs are very tricky. They can secretly invade the human body like an invisible army. Some of these invaders can make you sick, but others help your body function.

What Do Germs Do?

Like other animals, germs need to eat to grow and survive. When germs get inside our bodies, they act like little thieves stealing some of the nutrients from the food we eat. They use our nutrients to grow and make toxins. A toxin is a type of protein that acts like poison in our bodies. Toxins give you a fever or make you cough and sneeze when you are sick.

What Are the Different Types of Germs?

Even though most germs are very tiny, they come in different shapes and sizes. There are four main types of germs: bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa.

  • Bacteria are very tiny organisms-only a single cell. Bacteria live almost everywhere and they survive by eating the food they find in their environments. You even have bacteria that live in your mouth and eat some of the sugar from the food you eat. These bacteria can cause cavities if you don't brush your teeth, but not all bacteria are bad. In fact some bacteria are very helpful.

That's right! There are helpful germs! Helpful bacteria live in our stomachs and intestines and help us to digest our food. Without these good bacteria, we would not be able to get all of the nutrients out of the food we eat.

Bacteria are very small, single cell germs. You need a powerful microscope to see them. This bacteria has been magnified 10,000 times.
Bacteria Magnified

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