The Microbe Zoo CD-ROM and Web Site
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sample analysis screen 

CD-ROM sells for $34.98 plus shipping and handling. Click to order online or call 517-353-9229 to order by phone.

PI: Carrie Heeter
Project Director: Randy Russell
Chief Microbiologist and Multimedia Designer: Cathy McGowan
Art Director: Susanna Tellschow
Laser Scanning and Scanning Electron Microscopists: Joanne Whallon, Shirley Owens
Version 2.0 Programming: Brian Winn

The Digital Learning Center for Microbial Ecology (DLC-ME) is a science education project developed at Michigan State University. The DLC-ME was created by the Comm Tech Lab in collaboration with the Center for Microbial Ecology and the College of Education at Michigan State.

The goal of the DLC-ME and the Microbe Zoo is to help students from age 7 to 107 learn about microbial ecology, the study of microbes in the environment. This project was partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, 1994-1996.


-- SCILINKS, National Science Teachers Association, November, 2001 and May, 2002
-- Reviewed in the Journal of Biological Education, March 2002
-- Exploratorium's Ten Cool Sites Award for educational excellence for May, 2002
-- added to the MERLOT distinguished, high-quality learning materials collection, February, 2002
-- selected for schoolsnet web guide (UK), March, 2001
-- BlueWebn Award, 1999
-- rated "Spectacular!" and awarded 5 stars in a 3/17/99 syndicated newspaper column "Surfing the Net with Kids."
-- listed on BBC Best of Science on the Web, 1999
-- exhibited at SIGGRAPH, 1995
-- Health Explorer Site of the Week, 1998
-- five star rating by NetGuide, 1998
-- New Media Invision Multimedia Award Finalist, 1996


The web site includes four areas:

The Microbe Zoo
a virtual zoo filled with exotic specimens. Instead of lions, elephants, and zebras, this zoo is stocked with strange creatures from the microscopic worlds around, inside of, and on us. The zoo includes pictures of microbes; data about their size, scientific classification, feeding habitats, and more; and descriptions of how the microbes fit into and interact with their environment and other microorganisms. Zoo specimens are arranged in pavilions representing the habitats in which they naturally dwell, such as Water World, DirtLand, and the Animal Pavilion. Subsections of the zoo pavilions representing specific microbial habitats include the compost heap, the toxic waste dump, habitat on humanity, the termite gut, the house of horrors, and several others.

Microbes in the News
news stories from the popular press related to microbial ecology and microbiology, with added commentary from scientists. Stories are grouped into four categories: Heroic, Dangerous, Ancient and Strange. Articles are listed in chronological order based on publication dates, as well as by groupings based on what newspaper or magazine they originally appeared in.

Meet the Scientists
meet scientists who study microbes and microbial ecology. Science is not merely a collection of facts; it is an activity and an occupation for many people. Find out more about the people behind the microbes. Scientists are listed two ways: grouped by their areas of expertise and listed alphabetically by name.

Microbial Ecology Resources
a list of resources related to microbial ecology, microbiology, and biology of potential interest to students and teachers. Includes lists of World-Wide Web sites, CD-ROMs and other software, videotapes, books, periodicals, conferences, catalogs, science museums and other resources. Resources can be looked up based on title, author's name, or by media type (such as book, video, software, etc.).


The Microbe Zoo provides access to five pavilions covering 22 native habitats

Ag Acres, Compost Pile, Redox Mine, and the Root Cellar are just a few of the habitats found in Dirtland

Clicking on a habitat zooms in to show the microbes larger than life in their zoo cage

Information plaques describe each microbe's characteristics, size, and scientific information

The lab book contains illustrations, photos and interactive animations that expand on concepts in the zoo

Version 2 of the CD-ROM
now available!

The Microbe Zoo invites young people to actively explore the hidden world of microbes through an appealing, fun interface.

Rather than visit the "Lion House" or the "Monkey House," learners go to microbe habitats such as dirt, water, and inside of humans and animals. At the "Snack Shop," you can look at the microbes that live in snacks, rather than eating snacks.

Within each habitat, students zoom down to individual microbe "cages" to see and learn about the microbe. Each cage contains a plaque that provides information on the microbe and its habitat. The "Size Machine" allows the students to get a feel for the relative size of the creature they are looking at.

In addition to exploring through the zoo interface, students can search for microbe specimens based on Microscope Type and/or Microbe Classification using the 'crobe 2000 database.

The CD-ROM includes more than 150 microbe specimens. All specimens include textual descriptions, full-screen pictures, and audio pronunciations of their names.

As the student explores the zoo, various tools are available to enhance and record their experiences. The Scientist's Lab Notebook provides extensive background on microbial habitats. A glossary provides definitions. Within each habitat, a guide provides audio narration and insightful information. A notepad allows the student to jotting down (and saving and printing) their impressions. A camera (with lot's of film) is available for taking pictures of their favorite microbes.

Scientists and students alike delight in this appealing window to the unseen world of microbes.

The Microbe Zoo was partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and developed by the Communication Technology Lab and the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University.

The Microbe Zoo CD-ROM runs on

  • Power Macintosh with MacOS 8 or better
  • Pentium compatible PCs with Windows 95/98/2000/NT

  Copyright © 2003 Michigan State University. All Rights Reserved.