Box Resources


Cultured Algae




Bacterial Cultures

We've all heard of "germs" and they tend to get a bad rap, so we've decided to dedicate this month's box to everything bacteria! Steminists will create their own nutrient agar plates and scour their local environments for good bacterial samples. After a few days of incubation, we will be able to analyze their results and learn more about the bacteria in their world!

Experiment Instructional Videos

Research Bacteria On The Web!

  • Analyzing Cultures

    Now that you've grown your cultures for a few days, you're probably wondering what kind of bacteria or other microorganisms are growing on your plate. Science Buddies is a great first stop in solving the mystery of what you've cultured! If you'd rather not store smelly plates, we encourage you to sketch your cultures on the provided protocol pages and use those to analyze your work.
    Start analyzing!

    Discovery of Penicillin

    Although bacteria have much to contribute to our currenty way of life, they haven't always been thought of so kindly. Prior to modern medicine, bacteria plagued civilization with various pathogenic strains that caused serious disabilities and death. However all of that changed thanks to a happy accident in Dr. Alexander Fleming's research lab. The discovery of Penicillin is one of the most important events in human history and deserves to be learned about.
    Learn the real story behind the discovery of Penicillin!

    Gut Feelings

    In our lesson this month, we learn that bacteria are not only a major part of our environment, but they're also a major part of US! In this podcast, Radiolab takes an in depth look at the microbiology in our gut instestines that affects various facets of human health. You may be surprised to learn that the microbiome in your gut is as unique as you are, almost like a very stinky snowflake.
    Listen to the podcast here!

  • 5 Facts about Human Microbiomes

    If you enjoyed listening to the Radiolab podcast about your gut bacteria, you'll likely enjoy learning about the microbiome that every human carries. Each microbiome is unique and extends far beyond our gut intestines into places like our noses, eyes, ears, and more. Luckily for us, Live Science has compiled a quick bullet point list of 5 surprising facts about the human microbiome you may not have known otherwise.
    Five fun facts right here!

    Secrets of Life in the Soil

    When deciding where to obtain bacterial samples from for culturing, how many of you considered testing a small sprinkle of dirt on your agar plate? If you thought of doing that, then well done! If not, read on as to why you might want to design a second experiment to learn more about the bacteria that thrive in the soil all over the planet. Diana Wall is a steminist on a mission to explore the microbiology of soil and is a great role model for steminists looking to get their hands dirty.
    All about bacteria in the soil!


    Unimpressed with bacteria that live in our bodies and in the soil? Alright, try extremophiles on for size! Extremophiles are bacteria that are capable of not just living, but thriving in extreme environments. Whether it's the pressures of the deep ocean in the Mariana Trench, the subzero temperatures of Antarctica, or the scorching temperatures of lava in a volcano, bacteria have adapted to survive almost every environment. Curious to know how? How Stuff Works is here to tell you!
    How Extremophiles Work!

  • Life On Other Planets

    Now that you've read up on extremophiles and the conditions that they can survive on Earth, I bet you're wondering if there's any place they can't live! Well, turns out that scientists have been asking that question too. In the search for life on other planets, scientists have begun looking for microorganisms such as bacteria as a sign of life on other planets. Have they found them yet? Well, we won't spoil it for you, so read on!
    Extraterrestrial bacteria?!

    The 5 Second Rule

    How many times have you dropped some food on the floor and counted to five before deciding whether or not it is still edible? Apparently quite a few scientists have counted those seconds too, so many times that they decided to answer the question once and for all: Does the 5 second rule actually work? With science, you can answer quite a few practical questions like this. Though you may not want to lick that ice cream off of the sidewalk next time you drop it. Sorry!
    Read the article to find out!

    Cultured Art

    For those of us who put the A in STEAM, there's an artist named Maria Penil Cobo who uses mixed media to make living art. Her work is a true testimony to the beauty of science and the unconventional methods in which we sometimes make art. To see her work in action, check out the Huffington Post article listed below. You can even see her paint her next masterpiece in the story!
    Creativity abounds!

Get this box

The last day to sign up for the Cultured Algae Box was September 10th.

Sign up in time for next month's box!


Steminists in action!

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Troubleshooting the
Cultured Algae Box

If you've let your agar plates sit longer than one hour and they still have not solidified, don't fret, this is an easy fix! Return the agar from all of the plates you've poured to a microwave safe bowl or mug. Microwave on high at 15 second intervals for a maximum time of 2 minutes. This should cause excess water to evaporate from your mixture leaving more agar to solidify. Still doesn't work? Email us for a replacement packet! Remember, keep adult supervision during this step since the agar will be VERY hot and can cause burns.

Don't worry, the likelihood of culturing a pathogenic strain of bacteria (something that could make you sick) is very very low. We do not recommend culturing bacteria found in medical or research facilities since this increases your chances of culturing something pathogenic. But even if you were to culture something by chance, the safety precautions taken will help protect your steminist from infection. Always wear goggles and gloves, maintain adult supervision, wash hands thoroughly, and disinfect experiment surfaces after collecting specimen. Just remember, you'll be culuturing bacteria found in your every day environment that live off and on your body in your home.

If you're interested in creating more agar to culture more dishes you can purchase refills in our shop. You can also experiment with using Jell-O or use the recipe found here.

If your StemBox is missing pieces or you're having other issues, email us!
[email protected]
We are happy to help and will do our best to send you a replacement piece asap!