Montana State University

MB 536-801: Exploring Microbiology

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Feb 03-Apr 25, 2014
Credit: 3 graduate
Tuition & Fees: $835.20
NSTA members 10% discount
Instructor(s): Nancy Burritt and James Burritt

Register Online

Course Description

The goal of this course is to provide science educators and others with the fundamentals of microbiology. This information will allow them to expand their knowledge base and enhance their teaching activities in this subject. Teachers will gain an appreciation of microbiology through readings, web searches, discussions, assignments, and an experiment on microorganisms in their environment. They will also learn that microbiology can be applied in daily life, in biotechnology, and in studying complex issues such as microbial diversity. The course will provide a foundation in microbiology for those who intend to take future courses such as microbial ecology, environmental microbiology, infectious diseases, immunology, and microbial genetics.

The following topics will be covered: evolution, cell structure and function, viruses and other acellular agents, microbial growth, antimicrobial compounds, genetic variation, and fungi.

Each participant will set up an experiment that will run for the entire semester, by using Winogradsky columns to study the growth of microbes in sediment or soil. This activity will involve research on this subject, an experiment proposal, weekly observations summarized through updates, and a final report. The final assignment will be a PowerPoint presentation on the experiment.

This course requires consistent participation in weekly discussions, online quizzes, written assignments, and culminates in a final presentation. Participants will have proxy online access to the Montana State University library.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers log into the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week spending 10 - 13 hours each week while the course is in session, either online or in the text working on course-related assignments.


Nancy Burritt, MA. Nancy has a BS in Biology, a BA in Education, and a MA in Education/Technical Writing. She was a classroom teacher for many years and most recently worked as a Research Assistant in the Department of Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Nancy has been a co-instructor in many online microbiology courses over the past several years.

James Burritt, PhD. in Microbiology, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Stout.


This course is designed primarily for middle school and high school science teachers who are currently certified with at least one year of teaching experience. Participants should have taken a college level basic biology course or equivalent.

Time Commitment:

10-13 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

 Program Fee $25.50
 Computer Fee$10.20

NSTA Members are eligible to receive a 10% discount on tuition.

Teachers are responsible for purchasing the required text for the course on their own. It is listed below.

A $30 registration fee is also charged once per semester.

The costs above assume that you are taking only MSU Extended University courses during the semester that the course is offered. If you also registered for courses through the MSU Registrar, the regular MSU fee structure may apply.

A $40 late fee will be assessed if payment is not posted to your account by 3 pm (Mountain Time) of the course start date (or the business day before if the course starts on a weekend or a holiday).

To learn more about tuition and fees, please see the University Business Services' Student Accounts Web page.

Required Books/Materials

  • Prescott's Microbiology, 9th Edition
    Hardcover, 1152 pages
    ©2014, ISBN-13 9780073402406

Participants are responsible for purchasing the required text for the course on their own before the course begins.

You can order the text online from McGraw Hill or from another bookstore of your choosing.

Computer Requirements:

  • Computer running Windows XP Service Pack 3 or newer or Mac OS X.5 (Leopard) or higher
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Internet access

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

Regarding registration, please contact Kelly Boyce by phone at (800)282-6062 or (406)994-6812, or by email at

For questions regarding course content, please contact Nancy Burritt at

How to Register

Register Online

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