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Microbiology Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Master's degree in special education and has taught for more than 10 years.

This lesson will introduce you to the world of microbiology. You'll learn about the different types of microscopic organisms and will also find out why scientists like to study them.

What is Microbiology?

Germs, cooties, bugs - you probably have all sorts of names for microbes! Microbes are tiny, one-celled organisms that can only be seen with a microscope. They include the different bacteria and viruses that are all around us. The field of microbiology is dedicated to understanding how these tiny microbes function, and how they interact with the rest of the world. It's an important field because so many microbes either keep us healthy or make us sick! Let's take a closer look at different microbes found in microbiology.

Bacteria

If you've ever had strep throat or an infected hangnail, then you know what bacteria can do! Bacteria are living, single-celled organisms that are found all over the world, even underwater! Some bacteria cause infections when they enter your body and can be very dangerous. Microbiologists who study bacteria look at how they grow and reproduce, and how we can prevent them from causing major problems.

Bacterial cells often clump together.
Bacteria

As scary as that sounds, bacteria aren't all bad. In fact, we need lots of bacteria to survive. We have bacteria in our bodies that help us digest food and that keep bad bacteria out. Bacteria are also needed in water and soil in order to keep other living things healthy. Lots of different scientists' study bacteria, including ecologists, marine biologists, and food scientists.

Viruses

Viruses are similar to bacteria in that they only have one cell. They are different because they do not reproduce on their own; they must use the cells of a living thing as a host. Scientists debate whether or not viruses are living things, since they cannot reproduce on their own. These tiny invaders cause many different illnesses, from deadly Ebola infections to the annoying common cold. Microbiologists have a really important job when it comes to these guys. They need to learn how the viruses reproduce and spread, and how they can be stopped.

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