Science Students Wage War on the Microbiome

Bacteria, fungi and viruses were the stars of “The War of the Microbiome,” the seventh grade production that debuted during the middle school meeting on May 13.

Science teacher Georgia Warren shined the spotlight on the study of the human microbiome by assigning this lively, hands-on project. The microbiome is the collection of microbes and genes that naturally live on and inside our bodies.

“Each student made a costume of their microbe and participated in different ways: writing the script, building props, writing original music and acting,” Warren explained. “The project grew out of the microbe parade students did last year. This year, to make it more engaging, we staged the war of the microbiome, the background of which is happening in everyone’s body every day.”

The presentation was displayed in four separate story arcs by the students. “The introduction was the setup of a mostly healthy microbiome and ends with the introduction of the pathogens via a Chipotle food poisoning outbreak,” Warren said. “Then the antibiotics enter and wipe out all the microbes, even the good ones. In the last scene, probiotics help the microbiome re-seed, and then it culminates with a finale song.”

Donning a crown she made to symbolize her role as coronavirus, Waverly Beckwith ’29 and her group represented the bad viruses taking over the microbiome. “I thought it would be interesting to learn more about COVID because everyone knows so much about it but I wanted to research more about where it originated and its overall impact on people.”

Sasha Kotti ’29 was one of four stage managers who helped classmates with their lines and props. “I think our group did well even though we had a lot of actors and only two students who helped with the technical side,” Kotti said. 

Both Kotti and Beckwith enjoyed the collaborative experiential lesson. “I thought it helped us learn a lot by actually acting out what we learned instead of sitting in a classroom and reading about it,” Beckwith said.

Warren said all the work was well worth it: “Students commented how it reminded them of doing the puppet opera in fifth grade, and it was an incredible opportunity to infuse art and theater into the science curriculum.”

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