Laboratory activity to effectively teach introductory geomicrobiology concepts to non-geology majors
Dávila Vázquez, Yarely C.
Casillas Martínez, Lilliam
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We have designed a three-week experiment that can complement any microbiology course, to teach main geomicrobiology concepts for non-geology majors. One of the most difficult concepts for non-geology majors to comprehend is how bacteria serve as a platform for different mineralization reactions. In our three-week laboratory practice, students learn the main principles and conditions required for an induced bacterial mineralization. Upon completion of the laboratory experience, students will: 1) learn how microbial induced mineralization (such as calcium carbonate formation) is affected by differential media and growth conditions; 2) understand how bacterial physiology affects any induced in situ or in vitro mineralization; 3) comprehend how growing conditions and bacterial physiologies interrelate, resulting in differential crystal formation. The teaching-learning process was assessed using a pre-/posttest with an increase from 26% to 76% in the number of positive answers from the students. We also measured the students’ proficiency while conducting specific technical tasks, revealing no major difficulties while conducting the experiments. A final questionnaire was provided with satisfactory evaluations from the students regarding the organization and content of the practices. 84–86% of the students agreed that the exercises improved their knowledge in geomicrobiology and would like to attend similar laboratories in the future. Such response is the best indicator that the laboratory practice can be implemented in any undergraduate/graduate microbiology course to effectively teach basic geomicrobiology concepts to non-geology majors.