What limits bacterial growth? Barcelona students find out with new MULTIPLIERS test kit

By Èlia Tena, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

This school year, the MULTIPLIERS Open Science Community (OSC) in Barcelona is focusing on the topic of Antimicrobial Resistance (ARM), integrating a newly developed educational program into science classes in five high schools: Escola Tecnos, IE Feixes, INS Narcisa Freixas i Cruells, Vedruna Gràcia and INS Ca n’Oriac.

As part of this initiative, the Barcelona OSC members collaborate in the co-creative process of designing a teaching and learning sequence (TLS) to work with students aged 14-16 years on the issue of AMR.

One of the experimental activities of the sequence uses a practical kit in the classroom with the following materials: globes, petri dish, culture medium, inoculating loops, beaker, among others. These kits enable students to conduct experiments on bacterial growth and its inhibition, providing hands-on insight into antimicrobial resistance. This way, student can deepen their understanding of bacterial behaviour and factors that influence microbial growth.

Students impregnated discs with various substances and placed them inside different recipients. They were able to see that bacterial growth did not occur all around discs containing certain substances, like povidone-iodine. However, when substances like aloe-vera or salt were used for impregnation, bacteria grew without limitation. These observations helped students understand why doctors use targeted medicaments to fight specific infective agents.

Safety and Educational Value

All experiments are conducted with non-pathogenic bacteria, ensuring safety of the students. Likewise, significant efforts have been made to ensure the safety of the educational kits, with an emphasis on proper handling and usage awareness. In this sense, the OSC has taken considerable measures to minimize any potential risks, including thorough training for students and teachers on the proper use of the kits and adherence to safety protocols.