Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

This lesson plan accompanies Virtual Labs: Bacteria Sampling, and is adaptable for grades 6-12. This interactive lab challenges students to test milk samples for bacterial contamination with various disposable lab equipment.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Lesson Plan Next Generation Science Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Express an understanding of the monitoring of the food supply for safety and quality.
  2. Build knowledge about food microbiology.
  3. Demonstrate laboratory science skills associated with growing bacteria, gram staining, and using a microscope.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP


This lesson plan features an interactive lab titled Bacteria Sampling, developed by our partner New Mexico State University (NMSU). The lab challenges students to test milk samples for bacterial contamination with various disposable lab equipment. Students practice using special disposable equipment to perfect their lab skills while testing milk samples of pasteurized and raw milk for harmful bacteria, inoculating petri film with samples and then incubating the bacteria. They count the resulting bacteria colonies and draw conclusions.

The interactive is a great way to introduce students to expectations for using a science lab. You can use this lesson at the beginning of the school year, or later on to reinforce best practices.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Why is it important to maintain a sterile lab environment? Ask students to free write or discuss this topic with a partner.
  2. Tell students that they will be participating in a virtual lab centered around bacteria. Project the Bacteria Sampling Virtual Lab on a white board for the class to see. You may want to complete the initial portions of the interactive as a class so you can facilitate discussion and model how to navigate the interactive.
  3. Allow students to complete the interactive on a computer with a partner. Encourage students to take notes on science lab best practices so that they are prepared to discuss what they learned afterward.
  4. Bring students back to a whole class discussion. Revisit the initial question, and have students discuss how they cared for the disposable lab equipment in the interactive. How is the interactive similar to real life laboratory experiments? What are the implications for labs students will be conducting throughout the year?
  5. Have students take the game quiz to assess their learning.