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Students with homework questions or who are having a bit of trouble figuring out what your science teacher is presenting in biology class ---
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Hi !
I was wondering, what do bacteria need to survive and what do they eat?  Have a wonderful day.


Hi Charolette,
All bacteria are different.  All need food.  That food can be the food we eat, it can be worms and leaves that die in the soil, it can be things that live and die in the oceans.  Bacteria are really small and they can eat pretty much anything that once was alive.

Most bacteria also need oxygen, which they can get from the air, like we do.

There are lots of different kinds of bacteria, and they all eat somewhat different things.  Just like different animals all eat somewhat different things.

I hope this is helpful.
Dr. Pat

Dear Sir or Madam
I am sending this e-mail because I liked your site a lot and I saw it is very easy for kids to understand the concept of biology.  But I have a question:

How can we teach kids of 10 years old what is the cell?

yours truly,  Fahad

Hi Fahad,
Here is one option. Kids know what legos are.  You can use the analogy of building something bigger with those building blocks.  Also, the legos come in different colors, shapes and sizes -- another good analogy that cells are quite similar, but there are differences that suit the function they perform.
Dr. Pat

Dr. Pat,
Hi there! I found your website during a search for DNA for Kids.  My 7 year old son, James, wants to do his science fair project on DNA, and I think your site will be very helpful to him.  But, I am not sure how to help guide him into doing an appropriate project for our school science fair.  Do you have any suggestions or format ideas that could help us?  Thank you so much!  Any input will be greatly appreciated. Melissa (Mom & Teacher)

  Hi Melissa,
Your son, and your class, sure are lucky to have you.

An age appropriate project might be as follows:

One of the central concepts about DNA is the fact that Adenine (A) always pairs with Thymine (T) and Cytosine (C) always pairs with Guanine (G). That is the key for faithful replication of the DNA strands. And, faithful replication is absolutely necessary for life to be passed down the generations.

Using 4 different colors of beads and 2 pipe cleaners, your son can construct a single strand of DNA and then make the matching 2nd strand. He would assign one color to represent each nucleotide. Then use the proper pairing to demonstrate how DNA is copied. He could make a 'U' shape at the end of the 'single strand' pipe cleaner to keep all of the beads on. (If the beads are matched with the cleaners the beads will slide smoothly by snuggly) This first strand can be completely random in color of beads. And, remember to use all 4 colors on the one pipe cleaner. I would suggest twisting one end of each of the two pipe cleaners to keep them together, and build the second strand according to the proper pairing strategy. Once the second strand is completed, he can twist the ends of the two pipe cleaners again to 'seal' that end. Also, he can make a gentle twist - creating the 'double helix'.

He might want to take pictures of the pairs and the progress of making the second strand. And, he could have plastic glasses (4) filled with the beads, pipe cleaners, and constructed single strands (randomly beaded pipe cleaners). He could demonstrate the process and have extras for the judges and visitors to have a go at it, as well.

Good luck to him. The bottom line is to have fun.
Dr. Pat

Dear Dr. Pat,
I have found your site very informative.  I have a question regarding DNA replication.

The question is, Why DNA polymerases did not evolve to be primer independent as RNA polymerase?  If you provide me the answer, I would be very obliged to you.
Yours faithfully,  Roy

Good morning Roy,
It is a bit of a sticky situation to say 'why' something did not evove.  All one can really do is guess what advantage the current system has over the alternative.

My 'guess' would be that the RNA synthesis does not need the double helix to unwind.  On the other hand, DNA synthesis, of course, does.  And the DNA is so large, the job is split into smaller pieces.  This is where the primers come in... starting the small pieces so that eventually they can be linked together to create the whole chromosome.
Dr. Pat

Dear Dr. Pat,
Why are cells called cells?

anonymous concerned person

Hello Anonymous,

When the microscope was invented and folks began to see cells for the first time -- it reminded them of the very small quarters in which monks lived.  These were called cells and the biological term was named after these rooms.
Dr. Pat



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