Date of this Version
The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 83, No. 3, pp. 188–190,
Effective laboratory and classroom demonstration of microbiome size and shape, diversity, and ecological relationships is hampered by a lack of high-resolution, easy-to-use, readily accessible physical or digital models for use in teaching. Three-dimensional (3D) representations are, overall, more effective in communicating visuospatial information, allowing for a better understanding of concepts not directly observable with the unaided eye. Published morphology descriptions and microscopy images were used as the basis for designing 3D digital models, scaled at 20,000×, using computer-aided design software (CAD) and generating printed models of bacteria on mass-market 3D printers. Sixteen models are presented, including rod-shaped, spiral, flask-like, vibroid, and filamentous bacteria as well as different arrangements of cocci. Identical model scaling enables direct comparison as well as design of a wide range of educational plans.