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Children become bacteria to learn about antibiotics

Last Friday the global Antibiotics Awareness Week begun: an entire week dedicated to antibiotic use. Antibiotics researchers from the LACDR therefore set out to tell primary school pupils about their research. Through role-playing, pupils were drawn into the world of antibiotics: 'Can the teacher not poop anymore?'

Initiator Tirsa Kluis explains the rules of the game: 'Everyone gets a card with a bacteria on it and if you come into contact with a deadly antibiotic, you have to sit down.' But, not all bacteria are the same. For example, some have tiny hairs, others have a thicker cell wall, and there are also a few pathogens among them! Will it be possible to eradicate them with a prescription of antibiotics?

Caution advised

A team of researchers led by Coen van Hasselt developed a game that teaches students more about the world of bacteria and antibiotics. This taught them an important message: antibiotics are important medicines, but we need to be careful with them to make sure they keep working.

The children listen attentively to Tirsa's explanation

Using them right

'Through this interactive story, we hope to make children aware of the importance but also the risks of antibiotics,' explains De Kluis. 'An important way to prevent antibiotic resistance is to use antibiotics only at the right time and in the right way.'

Into the body of the teacher

During the game, all the pupils turn into bacteria living in teacher Sandra's intestines. Some of them turn out not to be benign bacteria, but pathogens! Sandra therefore gets sick and is prescribed an antibiotic. Together with the researchers, the pupils see what happens to the bacteria in her intestines afterwards. And how some pathogenic bacteria become resistant over time. 'So you shouldn't take antibiotics for a cold,' shouts one pupil.

To be continued

Because of the day's success, Van Hasselt's research group plans to continue the activity and make as many people as possible aware of antibiotics. In any case, the primary school pupils are enthusiastic about the game: 'Super fun,' says one of them, 'I would love to do it again.'

Leiden European City of Science

This activity was linked to Leiden European City of Science 2022. Within the same context, Coen van Hasselt could be heard on Radio Weetlust that morning.

Listen to Radio Weetlust (Dutch)
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