We need your help to go pond dipping!
We don't want goldfish or pondskaters, they're too big. We're not even after water fleas. We're after the very tiniest things we can get, smaller even than bacteria...
We want viruses!
Bacteriophage infect bacteria just as much as colds and flu infect us. They’re everywhere but they’re so small we need a huge electron microscope to see them.
We want your class to fetch us some water from somewhere outside. A pond, a stream, a river or a lake – it doesn’t matter which as long as you tell us about it and tell us the postcode.
We will collect the viruses from the water sample, take pictures under our electron microscopes and put them up on the website so you can see what the smallest things in your pond look like.
Why are we doing this?
Every time someone asks us that, we wave our arms about and jump up and down shouting “Because viruses are cool!” and then they go away.
No one had even seen a virus until 1940 when electron microscopes were invented. A drop of water can contain more than a million of them.
Some might be useful for attacking bacteria that make us sick. Many bacteriophage help bacteria swap DNA which changes how they evolve some bacteriophage can actually make diseases more deadly.
Bacteriophage come in loads of different shapes and sizes. We hope that by getting water from lots and lots of different places and trying to look at everything in it, we’ll get a much better idea of how many types there are and where to find them. If we’re lucky we might even find some that have never been seen before!
It will take us a while to get everything done and get your pictures up online so we’re doing a webcomic about the science
The Virus Hunters Team