No Subject

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue,  3 Sep 1996 16:11:34 +0000
From: Christine Martens <Christine_Martens at qmgates_affymax.com>
Subject: RE>Microscope on floating algae
To: Aquatic-Plants <Aquatic-Plants at ActWin_com>


Congratulations on encouraging your kid's interest in science...but it sounds 
like you're leading him to become a microbiologist, not a chemist! (As a 
microbiologist myself I heartily approve!)

We've done the "germs demo" for several years in preschool and early 
elementary classes. We take bacterial growth media (agar plates) and ask the 
kids to inoculate them with whatever samples they think of (sticky hands, spit,
 dirt from playground, etc.). One of the experiments we offer is always a jar 
of clean tap water and a jar of fishtank water (very effective when you have a 
baby fish to "mark" the fishy jar; attracts a lot of interest). Even on a 
minimal plate (without a real rich medium to support finicky bugs) the kids 
have always gotten very interesting bacterial colonies growing out in one day. 
Yep -- wash those hands!

As you observed, many different kinds of organisms are, and should be, living 
in your tank. After all, it's a closed natural ecosystem, not a screensaver or 
a plastic facsimile! The bits of food may be eaten by many of your inhabitants 
but probably don't contribute significantly to the nutrition of larger 
creatures. OTOH, those microbes are an important part of the ecosystem. Thanks 
for sharing your experience!