WEBCAST - Mineral Transformations: Demystifying Microbes

Watch the archive of the webcast featuring geologist Dr. Cara Santelli. In the show, Cara explains how microbes transform minerals.

Smithsonian Science How: Mineral Transformations - Demystifying Microbes

Featuring Geologist Cara Santelli

Meet Dr.Cara Santelli, geologist at the National Museum of Natural History. She studies the relationship between minerals and microbes, such as bacteria and fungi. Did you know that microbes are a solution to pollution? Cara works to better understand how microbes can help clean up metal pollutants from old coal mines.  Take a journey from Pennsylvania coal mines to an X-ray diffraction laboratory. See how microbes are little machines for mineral transformations. Get to know the microscopic organisms that are essential to the health of our natural environment. 

Watch a recording of the March 12, 2015, webcast using the video player above. The show aligns with national science standards.

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video above

        2. VIEW the "Webcast Extra" video blog, in which Cara answers more student questions.

        3. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

        4. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Mineral Transformations - Demystifying Microbes Webcast package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment
  • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems

MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

  • MS-LS2-1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem
  • MS-LS2-3 Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem
  • MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services