Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-8, students play Antibiotic Resistance, a game that invites students to explore the concept of antibiotic resistance by defeating multiplying bacteria with doses of antibiotics. Through play, students discover how bacterial reproduction creates mutations that are resistant to antibiotics.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Lesson Plan Next Generation Science Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Learn that bacteria are always multiplying and that small changes are introduced when they multiply.
  2. Understand that antibiotics are intended to kill bacteria, but that strong bacteria are resistant, and can survive.
  3. Discover that slowly increasing the dose of antibiotics creates stronger, more resistant bacteria.


  • Computers or other devices with Internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard


antibiotics, antibiotic resistance, bacteria, genes, genetic mutation, heredity, inheritance, mutation


This lesson plan features a game called Antibiotic Resistance developed by our partner,  Field Day Lab. A playful exploration, the game demonstrates how bacteria replicate and helps students visualize how bacterial reproduction creates mutations that can withstand antibiotics.

Preview and play Antibiotic Resistance to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. If students will be playing in small groups, review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations.

Read Antibiotic Resistance: SnapThought Prompts for more information and specific SnapThought prompts to provide students during game play.

Depending on your classroom routines and available technology, you may want to consider these grouping options:

  • 1:1 with students and devices
  • Two to three students sharing one device and swapping ideas and the device back and forth
  • Station model where small groups rotate through using the devices
  • Build background knowledge or reinforce topics with these BrainPOP movies: Antibiotic Resistance, Immune System, and Genetic Mutations.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Prompt student to share what they know about being sick and fighting infection. Following are some prompts you can use to encourage discussion and that will help you assess prior knowledge:
      • What are bacteria?
      • What can we do to fight bacteria?
      • How come sometimes medicine we take for infections don’t work?
      • What is a “superbug”?
  2. After everyone shares their ideas, play the BrainPOP movie Antibiotic Resistance  on the whiteboard or other display. After watching once through, review key terms and concepts including superbug, bacteria, bacterial infections, antibiotics, genetic mutations, natural selection, and antibiotic resistance.
  3. Watch the movie again, this time within the Make-a-Map feature. Tell students you will watch the movie again, and as you do they are to identify the different effects of bacteria, good and bad. As you explain this, select the “Create new” option and construct a cause/effect map on the canvas. Make “bacteria” the cause by adding an image of bacteria to the canvas or a keyword.  Then create nodes around or the the side of bacteria which students will fill in with the effects as they watch the movie. The effects can be represented by words, images or even clips from the movie, which you can create using the camera icon.  
  4. Next, working independently or in pairs, have students open the game Antibiotic Resistance on their computers or devices. Have them read the cartoon, then click the blue bacteria on the left to play. If students have individual logins through My BrainPOP, encourage them to use the SnapThought® tool to take snapshots during game play, and reflect on their discoveries. For suggested prompts, see Antibiotic Resistance: SnapThought Prompts.   Alternatively, students can discuss their observations with their partner, or jot them in their notebooks.
  5. After 10 minutes of gameplay, divide the class into four groups. Challenge each group to come up with a creative way to teach other students about antibiotic resistance. Examples include a skit, a model, online presentation, a poem, etc. Then have each group present to the rest of the class. Alternative, you can have a Antibiotic Resistance fair in your classroom and invite other classes to attend.
  6. Bring the class together to discuss what they learned about bacteria an antibiotic resistance. If students are using SnapThought, encourage them to share their reflections.

Extension Activities:

Invite students to further explore the topic by playing Immune System Defender, a game that challenges players to keep an infection from invading a body. For support, see the Fighting Off Infection Lesson Plan.