Who was Alexander Fleming? Alexander Fleming was a scientist that lived from 1881 to 1955, and he was a physician, microbiologist, and pharmacologist. He was interested in the study of microorganisms, the tiny little creatures you can’t see that can cause you to become sick! Microorganisms are often called germs! There are 6 types of microorganisms: bacteria, fungi (yeast and mold), archaea, algae, protozoa, and viruses!
To study and understand how microorganisms live and behave, Alexander Fleming would leave bowls of bacteria cultures around his workspace. One day in 1928, Fleming noticed that a culture plate of a bacteria called staphylococcus aureus had become contaminated by mold. The mold seemed to be defeating the staph bacteria! By using his scientist observation skills, Alexander Fleming concluded the mold contained a substance that was effective against bacteria, and he named this substance penicillin.
Penicillin is part of a large group of medications that can be used to fight bacteria called antibiotics. Antibiotics are very useful in treating bacterial infections like strep throat (caused by streptococcus), sinus infections, staph infections (staphylococcus aureus) by killing off the bacteria causing the infection. Viruses, another type of germ, cannot be treated with antibiotics for a few reasons; viruses are not living organisms like bacteria, viruses replicate and reproduce cells differently, and viruses are usually fought off by your immune system.
Doctors use vaccinations to prevent humans from getting viruses that can make us very sick. Vaccinations take weakened forms of diseases like polio, influenza (the flu), and measles and inject them into your body to build up a resistance. Your immune system is your body’s defense system that protects you from disease and helps to keep you healthy! When a vaccination enters your body, your immune system fights it off and remembers how to fight off the flu or polio germs that may enter your body in the future.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a virus that the world has never seen before, and this is why it can seem so scary. This is a new virus that our body has no resistance to, and doctors haven’t had the time to create a vaccination to help keep us healthy. While doctors and nurses are working hard to treat sick people with the coronavirus, there are lots of things that we can do to help stop the spread of this new virus!
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends that you wash your hands often, especially after blowing your nose or coughing, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. By touching doorknobs, desks and many other places where germs collect, washing your hands will stop them from being introduced to your body!
To better understand how germs can be passed from person to person, you can play High Touch High Tech’s Germ Game! By taking some glitter and lotion, we can observe how the microorganisms we can’t see are being spread across our world!
Want instructions on how to play the Germ Game? Visit us at: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/germ_game.pdf