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Smithsonian Science How Webcast

Mineral Transformations - Demystifying Microbes

In this video, geologist Dr. Cara Santelli explains how microbes transform minerals.


Meet Dr. Cara Santelli, a former 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. This show aired March 12, 2015.



National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Earth Science


Earth's Systems
  • MS-ESS2-1Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
  • MS-ESS3-3Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
  • MS-ESS3-4Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
Life Science


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

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards

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