Skip to main

KS4: Useful Microbes

In this lesson plan, students use the story of insulin to learn how microbes can be useful.

Scroll down for more information and to download resources.

Download the complete lessonDownload DOCXDownload PPTDownload PDF
Learning objectives
All students will:
  • Understand that some microbes can keep us healthy
  • Understand that some microbes can be put to good use
  • Understand that we need bacterial colonisation to live a healthy life
  • Understand that we need to protect our normal microbial flora
  • Begin to explore scientific research
Most students will:
  • Understand that microbes are important in decomposition and nutrient recycling
Background Information

One of the main ways in which bacteria are beneficial is in the food industry. The natural by-products created during normal microbial growth can be used to make many of the food products we eat.

Fermentation is a process by which bacteria break down complex sugars into simple compounds like carbon dioxide and alcohol. There are different types of fermentation - acetic acid fermentation produces vinegar and lactic acid fermentation produces yoghurt and cheese.

In this lesson plan, students explore how microbes can be useful in industries. They look at some of the most useful microbes and identify their properties and uses in industries such as the pharmaceutical and food industry.

Main activity:
  • The story of insulin
Extension activities:
  • Useful microbes and their properties
  • Useful microbes presentation
Curriculum links


  • Scientific thinking
  • Analysis and evaluation
  • Experimental skills and strategies
  • Genetic engineering
  • Role in biotechnology


  • Cells
  • Health and disease
  • Development of medicines


  • Health and prevention


  • Reading
  • Writing
Supporting Materials
Teacher sheets
KS4 Useful microbes teacher guidance
TS1 Useful microbes and their properties answers
Student worksheets
SW1 Useful microbes and their properties