Suggested Gifts for kids, husbands, amateur scientists, gardeners, and yourself.
I get occasional requests from parents, grandparents, mentors, and wives seeking my advice on gifts for a loved one who likes science. I am happy to answer e-mail questions. This page is based on my replies to such questions during the last 40 years. I have had a home lab since the early 1940s. I often purchase supplies in large economy quantities and I can supply some items at low cost. This page is mainly about bacteria hobbies and projects, but some of the info applies to other sciences.
Love and Support - One of the best ways to engage in frank free discussion with men and boys is to join them in an activity they enjoy such as basketball, computers, and microbiology. They will often then open up and tell you of fears and worries which they would not otherwise discuss. Do not be pushy. Once they realize you are not going to ridicule them or be overly critical, they will be happy to show you some of the things they like best about their hobby. First become genuinely interested in and supportive of their hobby and they will begin to open up to you. If the boy has troubles or big decisions to make, he will begin to realize he can trust you and depend upon your advice. This concept applies mainly to boys, girls are often more willing to talk about their problems. I have known parents who had unfounded fears of bacteria and would not associate with nurses and others because they had fears of bacteria.If you are a mentor working with troubled youths, this paragraph may offer ideas for making genuine contact with them.
Be a Safety-Buddy - I have known parents who destroyed a child's science fair project because the child was neglecting farm chores or the parent feared the child would become infected. I have read of childern dying from contaminated food, but I have yet to read of a child dying from a science project. However, a brilliant chemist told me she was overcome by hydrogen sulfide when working alone on a qualitative analysis project one night in the school chem lab. She was rescued by her father. Brillant, safety-minded childern also need help and supervision and a Buddy For Safety is important. Childern lack experience and sometimes are working too fast to understand the risks. Help your child construct or organize his work area for safety. A crowded work area is one of the main safety risks. Help the child find safe alternatives. After I saw one of my students painfully burned in my classroom at University of Illinois when a neighboring student overturned an alcohol container, I quit using flaming needles and I have had no problems.
Be a mentor - A middle schooler wrote me today telling about the incubator his dad was helping him build for a bacteria project. Your help can enable a child to do things way beyond his age. My eight year old son made up 200 mL of 0.1 normal solutions of several chemicals for a science fair. I made the first one and he saw how I used the calculator to get the weight needed, the triple beam balance to weigh, and the mixing. He helped on the second one, and he did the last 10 by himself. He was able to look at the formula on the chemical bottle and determine the divisor needed for a Normal solution vs a Molar solution. The calculator made it possible as long division was still in his future at school. Those 23 year-old solutions are sitting on the lab bench behind me because I recently used them for teaching a group of sewage operators. Probably a hundred kids have used them in class or in their own science fairs. Some of those kids are now doctors and chem engineers. Some of them still visit me--being a mentor can be rewarding. Volunteer to provide science supplies or time to schools, youth clubs, orphanages. Organize your fellow workers to help with tutoring and demonstrations at youth clubs and reform schools. We had such a group of mentors in the Biology Division of California Institute Techonology. I organized similar work in Indianapolis and those kids considered our visits to be the highlight of the week.
d pages are coming during 1999.
B020 - Index Page. Start your own Home Microbiology Lab: introductory experiments, media, tools, and methods for beginners using fofsods and items found at home--few or no purchases required.
B040 - Index page. Standard Methods used in Microbiology: This chapter shows you how to perform the techniques used in colleges, hospitals, and professional laboratories. A junior high school student many not have access to this equipment, but these pages help him design or select substitutes so that he is able to complete many additional experiments.
B060 - Experiments: Effect of environmental factors on the growth of bacteria. Performing these experiments will help you understand bacteria and how to protect your food from spoilage and poisoning by bacteria . Salt, sugar, pH, oxygen level, heat, and other agents are all used to protect and preserve foods. In these experiments you will aloso learn how different genera and species of bacteria differ in their response to environmental conditions.
B090 - The classification of Bacteria: main groups, families, genera, archeobacteria
B100 - Food Bacteriology: Experiments with the bacteria you eat every day INCOMPLETE
B200 - Isolation and study of bacteria from nature with descriptions of family, genus, species
B800 - Medical bacteriology; move pathogenic discussions here - not ready (incomplete)
B900 - Bacterial genetics
These pages were written for the young Pasteur who has an interest in microbes, but has no books, no equipment, no microbes--nothing but a desire to learn. You will find protocols for isolating bacteria from nature, descriptions of species, and useful information not found elsewhere on the Web. With this information you will be able to start you own collection of pure cultures and identify many of them, at least assign them to the correct genus. If you put in that much effort, you will probably learn as much as many students in a good college microbiology course. Likewise elementary and highschool teachers, farmers, gardeners will learn much to aid them. Eventually this site will be 20 times as large as it is today.
You do not need a microscope. Toy microscopes are useless for studying bacteria. A microscope good enough to see bacteria costs hundreds of dollars. You would have to pay over $1,000 for a microscope that would be really useful. If you want to see your bacteria, take them to school and use a microscope there. Instead of spending money on a microscope, it is better to concentrate on isolating bacteria from nature and studying their biochemical traits. Someone once told Pasteur he had called a bacterium a coccus (round) when it was actually rod-shaped. "If you only knew how little difference that makes to me," Pasteur replied.
There is no need to go out and buy lots of equipment. Begin with Home Micro Lab by making media from common kitchen foods and isolate some bacteria.
Bottles can serve as culture tubes, or your teacher may loan you culture tubes and supplies. If not try a hospital, they throw away lots of items you can use and if autoclaved they are perfectly safe. Before you trouble a hospital for gifts, do a few week's work at home and prove that you are really interested and planning to work hard. Can lids, or flat bottles can serve as petri plates. Most students only have access to plastic petri plates, but is sometimes possible to reuse them.
BA.htm - Isolation and study of Bacillus strains
CL.htm - Isolation and study of Clostridum strains
Some day there will be pages on yeasts and fungi.
You may send private e-messages to Dr. Eddleman and he will reply, usually within 24 hours.
Visitors since 1998 June 8:
Notes to be used on future pages
Suggested Bacteria Projects (Someday, I will expand each of these to a full web page):
Isolate 8 bacteria from soil, air, and water. Grow liquid culture of each. Make a glass petri plate using starch, meat broth (or other N-source), and agar, autoclave. Streak or spot all eight bacteria on the same petri plate. Incubate about 12 to 36 hours. Flood plate with dilute iodine. The starch will be stained black, but you will see clearing around the streaks of Bacillus and other species that use starch.
113. Eden, P.A., T.M. Schmidt, R.P. Blakemore, and N.R. Pace. (1991). Phylogenetic analysis of Aquaspirillum magnetotacticum using PCR-amplified 16S ribosomal RNA-specific DNA. Internat. J. System. Bacteriol. 41:324-325. Indina Univesity