Slime Mold – Physarum polycephalum

Slime Mold Learning Kits

Slime molds provide the science classroom with a unique and interactive organism. This species of slime mold belongs to a group of organisms described as “social amoebas”. They’re easy to grow and the fun they provides great opportunities for engaging students with discussion and scientific inquiry.

Within 24 hours of setting up these learning kits, your students will begin to observe how slime mold P. polycephalum surrounds food with “streams” and “networks” of slime.

Note: Green Noise LLC is an approved vendor for the City of Minneapolis.

Your Slime Mold Learning Kit comes with the following:

  • Slime mold colonies (Physarum polycephalum).
  • Food for the slime molds.
  • 20 plain pre-prepared agar petri plates.
  • 20 plastic bags that help with student identification and storage.
  • Care instructions.
  • Technical support via email, if needed.                          

These slime mold learning kits are made in Minneapolis by Green Noise LLC, a Minneapolis-based company. Green Noise LLC is an approved vendor for the City of Minneapolis.

Contact information
Neil Cunningham
leavesofnoise@gmail.com
 

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More about slime molds

Slime molds have the ability to engage young learners while delivering the understanding needed to reach specific benchmarks regarding life science curriculum standards.
These “plasmodium” slime molds are actually a network of individual cells that fuse together to form these miniature “bags” of cytoplasm…that swarm and/or “channel” themselves as they search for material to surround and consume….unprocessed oats.

There are several articles of interest that talk about the intelligence of slime molds when they are placed in a maze. Apparently, they apply their “network” streaming behavior to find the most efficient way to get to the food. And then there is another infamous article that describes how when slime molds are connected to a robotic device. Somehow, the robot legs, under the direction of the slime mold, will move away from the light that slime molds do not prefer as much as shade.

Another reason Physarum polycephalum makes a wonderful organism to study is that you can watch the movement/flow of cytoplasm under fairly low magnification; plus, the movement a slime makes from day to day can also be visually striking, depending on the conditions of your cultures and how much or how frequently you feed and care for them.

Visual and hands-on learners will appreciate the wide spectrum of observable differences in the “branching shapes” of individual cultures; these small veins or channels of cytoplasm are a small testament to nature’s artistry. The shape of their branching, in addition to their ability to breakdown matter using their own built-in chemistry set of enzymes gives students the opportunity to learn about the tools used by organisms to set the process of decomposition into motion.

Their classification provides yet another learning moment. These social amoebae are not “molds”, but rather they are protists. The names of organisms provides yet another opportunity to understand the how scientific nomenclature follows the form of an organism.

Recommended for fourth grade through eighth grade.

Contact information
Neil Cunningham
leavesofnoise@gmail.com

 
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