Lesson 1: Meet the Germs

Students learn that diseases are caused by different kinds of germs. The lesson focuses on how viruses and bacteria differ. Unique resources include computer animations and an illustrated story about Martinus Beijerinck, the scientist who figured out how to separate viruses and bacteria in the lab. Student activities include small group research to distinguish the structures of viruses and bacteria and class assessment of context cues to align Beijerinck’s work with the steps of the scientific method.

Grades: 3 to 5
DOK: 1 to 3
Time: Up to two 45-minute sessions

Lesson Questions

  • What is a virus?
  • Who discovered viruses?
  • How did the scientific method lead to the discovery of viruses?
  • What are the differences between viruses and bacteria?

Teacher Instructions

Here you will find your lesson plan, which outlines standards, describes activities, and provides answer key.

Teacher’s Guide

Student Files

This document can be reproduced in whole or in part to guide students through the lesson.

Student Worksheet

Lesson Resources

The Story of
Martinus Beijerinck

Learn more about the man who went from a struggling student to a hero scientist.

Download PDF

Meet the Germs

Learn more about some of the germs including their location in people, type, and other information.

Download PDF

When a Virus Attacks a Cell

View a brief animated video which shows how a virus attacks a healthy cell in the body.

Watch Video

How Do Viruses Reproduce?

View a brief animated video which details how viruses reproduce in the human body.

Watch Video