- Virginia Johnson
The microbes we call germs have been around for a loooong time, and, tiny as they are, they are excellent survivors. You can find traces of microbes in meteorites that have crashed to Earth from other planets and moons, on the tops of the coldest mountains, and bubbling merrily in deep sea volcanic vents. Microbes are survivors. If they "know" anything, it's how to spread and how to live in the most unlikely places.
You probably know that washing your hands after playing and before eating is a good way keep cold germs away. But, it's harder than you might think to get rid of them. If you have patient parents or a teacher, take a shaker of glitter or glitter bug lotion, and sprinkle or rub it all over your hands. Now, use some soap and water to try to rinse it ALL off. It takes a while, doesn't it, and it's hard to get it all. That's because germs, like glitter, are good at sticking to your outsides as well as your insides.
Got a sniffly nose, and need to blow? Be sure to use a tissue unless you want everybody within three feet of you to share your cold. A dripping, blowing nose is how the common cold becomes common. The germs are part of the droplets you'd blow if you didn't practice good hygiene.
Your nose isn't the only place to find germs or bacteria. Inside your intestines are e. coli bacteria that help break down your food. If didn't have these good e. coli, you wouldn't get as much energy from your meals and snacks. You've probably heard of e. coli as a kind of food poisoning that can make you very sick. While that can certainly be the case, the e. coli that's already inside you is good for you. If it gets killed off, you will have problems digesting your food.
Read more about germs that hurt and germs that help online and in books from the library:
In the Library
A Field Guide to Germs by Wayne Biddle.
You've heard of field guides to trees and birds, and here's a real who's who of the world of germs. Everything from the common cold to Chinese restaurant syndrome. Each listing is two to four pages long. The index includes the germs' scientific names.
Germs Make Me Sick! by Melvin Berger.
In this picture book meets science book, you'll learn how bacteria and viruses affect the human body and how the body fights them. Also available as a book cassette (book with audiotape) and as a videorecording. A Stage 2 Let's Read-and-Find-Out Science book.
Germs! by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent.
Explains what germs are, how they attack the body, and how the body protects itself against their onslaught. Includes material on immunization and research in disease control.
The Giant Germ by Joanna Cole.
When Keesha discovers mold on her sandwich, Mrs. Frizzle takes the class on a tour of the mini microbe world where the kids learn first hand that these tiny beings can have huge effects.
One of the Magic School Bus Science Chapter Books.
How Did We Find Out About Germs? by Isaac Asimov.
Traces the developing knowledge about germs from the first sighting of them under a primitive microscope to modern medicine's new methods of combating them.
Part of the How Did We Find Out series.
I Know How We Fight Germs by Kate Rowan.
Need to a way to nicely tell your little brothers or sisters that it's beyond gross to wipe their dripping noses on the backs of their sleeves and then give you great, big hugs?
Par of the Sam's Science series for young ones.
The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie.
Ralphie is crushed when a fever and sore throat keep him home from school the day he's scheduled to host a Frizzle News Network television broadcast on health. The Magic School Bus gang get to know their friend inside and out in this fun video.
On the Web
"America's Most Unwanted: They've Got You Surrounded! But You Can Help Keep Bad Germs at Bay" by David Bjerklie in Time For Kids.
This article, available through the Kids' Edition database, discusses how germs spread and what can be done to prevent it. Kids' Edition is available to CRRL library card holders at no charge.
Germs, Germs, Everywhere
All about germs: their history, names, diseases they cause, how we fight them, and ways they help us. Includes a glossary.
A ThinkQuest project.
The Global Bug Conspiracy
"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out more about the global bug conspiracy: an unseen army of bacteria and viruses that infect our food and water and make us sick."
A quick and fun overview.
Tour a different kind of zoo where some of the microbes keep us healthy and some can be real pains (Streptococcus in the mouth = cavities). Get the dirt on dirt and how plants need microbes to grow and how other tiny creatures live in your comfy couch and on your shower curtain.