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Good Bacteria

by Greg Crowther


Context

This song was written for the 2012 edition of UW's "Mini-Medical School," a series of evening lectures for the general public. It counters the popular misconception that most or all bacteria are harmful to humans. It includes a reference to Ilya Metchnikov, a Russian biologist and Nobel Laureate who was among the first to suggest that certain lactic acid-producing bacteria (genus Lactobacillus) could be used to improve health.


Lyrics

We know that microbes can make us ill,
But many species don't fit that bill.
Hey Dr. Metchnikov, what do you say?
Do all the good bugs keep the bad ones away?

We live with good good good good bacteria!
We live with good good good good bacteria!
In the air... On our skin...
All around, and within...

Now probiotics are catching on;
Some claims are valid, and some are wrong.
So read the research, and get the scoop:
Lactobacillus just might help you to poop...

We live with good good good good bacteria!
We live with good good good good bacteria!
In our gut... In our chest...
Symbiosis at its best....

[instrumental or scat solo]

So don't be too quick to sterilize;
These tiny microbes enrich our lives.
They train immune cells, they process our food,
And keep our pathogens suppressed and subdued...

We live with good good good good bacteria!
We live with good good good good bacteria!
We live with good good good good
Good good good good good good bacteria!


Other Files

sheet music (with melody play-back)

video (by UWTV)


Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using the audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity should begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.


Study Questions

(1) What are microbes?

(2) In what sense might bacteria like Lactobacillus "help you to poop"?

(3) Explain the line that microbes "train immune cells... process our food, and keep our pathogens suppressed and subdued."

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)