Fourth Edition, two-book set
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This two-book set is part of the official materials used in the Small World Initiative¨ (SWI). Initiated at Yale University in 2012, SWI is an innovative program that inspires and retains students in the sciences by engaging them in the hunt to find new drugs to treat infectious diseases known as superbugs.
"Infectious disease threats, like the coronavirus and superbugs, undermine modern medicine," according to SWI's President, Erika Kurt. "Leveraging the collective efforts of thousands of students and educators around the world gives us a real chance to tackle these challenges head on and provides an incredible STEM education in the process." As COVID-19 has demonstrated, a lack of preparedness can take a huge human, financial, and educational toll, making the Small World Initiative's work critical to our fight against the next pandemic.
Differentiating itself from traditional science education programs, SWI's program provides original research opportunities rather than relying on cookbook experiments with predetermined results. Students are introduced to discovery-based research through the core research project of antibiotic discovery from soil microbes. Through a series of experiments, students collect soil samples, isolate diverse bacteria, test their bacteria against clinically-relevant microorganisms, and characterize those showing inhibitory activity.
While most antibiotics come from soil and it remains a great place to look for new ones, finding new candidates requires screening thousands of samples. SWI's approach provides the requisite platform to crowdsource antibiotic discovery by tapping into the power of thousands of student researchers concurrently addressing a global challenge. This unique approach harnesses the power of active learning to achieve both educational and scientific goals.
Since its inception, SWI has impacted hundreds of schools across the United States and around the world and helps them transform science education and promote antibiotic discovery through the curiosity and inventiveness of young scientists. "SWI allows students to not just dream about using science to save lives, but to actually dig in and help save the world, starting at school," says Kurt. "The program is an example of how groundbreaking research can start in the classroom."
If you are interested in learning more about the Small World Initiative, please visit www.smallworldinitiative.org.
Lab Safety and Best Practices
Agarose Gel Electrophoresis
Aligning and Combining 16S rRNA Gene Sequences
Analyzing Organic Extracts for Antibiotic Production
Analyzing Sequences with BLAST Search
Antibiotic Resistance Test
MacConkey Agar Test
Making Glycerol Stocks
Obtaining Soil Sample
Picking and Patching Colonies
Plating Soil Sample
Screen for Isolate Antibiotic Production #1—Patch/Patch
Screen for Isolate Antibiotic Production #2—Spread/Patch
Screen for Isolate Antibiotic Production #3—Top Agar
Silica Column Chromatography Protocol
Sulfide and Indole Production and Motility
Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC)
Typical Media Menu
Small World Initiative¨ Overview
Introduction: The Antibiotic Crisis
Section 1: Living on a Bacterial Planet
• Experiment 1: Devise a method to transfer microbes from a soil sample to a medium in the lab
Section 2: More Than Just "Dirt"
• Experiment 2: Find a local soil environment you wish to sample
Section 3: Redefining "Growth" and "Culture"
• Experiment 3: Find a method to isolate single colonies of bacteria from your soil sample
Section 4: Bacteria Are What They Eat, Too
• Experiment 4: Choose your own media and culture conditions
Section 5: Solid Versus Liquid Cultures
• Experiment 5: Isolate unique colonies to test for antibiotic production
Section 6: Meet the ESKAPE Pathogens
• Experiment 6: Understand the significance of the ESKAPE pathogens and using safe relatives in the lab
Section 7: Antibiotic Discovery, Structure, & Targets
• Experiment 7: Design a method to screen for antibiotic producers
Section 8: Getting to Know Your Isolates
• Experiment 8: Conduct initial identification of your antibiotic-producing isolate
Section 9: It All Comes Down to Chemistry
• Experiment 9: Test an organic extract of your isolate for antibiotic activity
Section 10: Resisting Antibiotics
• Experiment 10: Test your isolate's resistance to common antibiotics
Section 11: "Classic" versus "Modern"
• Experiment 11: Conduct biochemical characterization of your isolates
Section 12: Bacteria in Context
• Experiment 12: Assess your isolate's activity against eukaryotes, potential use as biological control, and ecological relationships with other organisms