Antimicrobials are medicines used to kill or slow the growth of microbes and antibiotics are special medicines used by doctors to kill harmful bacteria. Some antibiotics stop the bacteria reproducing and others kill the bacteria. Antibiotics treat infectious diseases caused by bacteria, such as meningitis, tuberculosis and pneumonia. They do not harm viruses, so antibiotics cannot treat diseases such as colds, flu and COVID-19, which are caused by viruses.

Before antibiotics were invented, harmful bacteria were life threatening. Today, however, many bacterial infections are easily treated with antibiotics – but bacteria are fighting back. Through increased exposure to the antibiotics, bacteria are becoming resistant to them. This means that bacterial infections are once again becoming life threatening.

In this lesson, students are introduced to the growing global public health threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). They learn how antibiotics were discovered, their limitations, and why antibiotic resistance is a threat.

Learning Outcomes:

  • All students will:
  • Understand that antibiotics only work on bacterial infections
  • Understand that most common infections will get better by themselves through time, bed rest, hydration and healthy living
  • Understand that if you have antibiotics prescribed, finish the course. If, for whatever reason you have leftover antibiotics, you should dispose of them by returning these to your local pharmacy
  • Understand that you must not use leftover antibiotics from a previous course or antibiotics prescribed for other people
  • Understand that if you have antibiotics prescribed, finish the course
  • Understand that bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics due to overuse

Activities Include:

  • Main Activity 1
  • Antibiotics Can/Can’t Game
  • Main Activity 2
  • Antimicrobial Resistance Flash Card Game
  • Extension Activities
  • Growth of Bacterial Lawn
  • Antibiotic Resistance Debate Kit
  • Antibiotics Conclusions

Curriculum Links:

  • Science:
    • Working scientifically
    • Scientific attitudes
    • Experimental skills and investigations
    • Analysis and evaluation
    • Health and prevention
  • English:
    • Reading