Bacterial Shapes and Movement

Time to complete course: 15 min.

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About Bacterial Shapes and Movement Virtual Lab Simulation

This short, targeted simulation is adapted from the full-length “Bacterial Cell Structure” simulation.

Global warming is causing the ice to melt in Antarctica, leading to the discovery of bacteria that have survived this extreme environment. In this simulation, you will learn about bacterial shapes and movement. To look at the bacteria sample, you will use a microscope that has a darkfield and brightfield setting. Then you will jump into the sample to get a closer look.

Prepare the microscope slide

First you will prepare the microscope slide of the Antarctic bacteria. Take a microscope slide from the stack and use a pipette to transfer the bacteria sample onto the microscope slide. Don’t forget to add the coverslip to the slide!  Once the microscope slide is ready you can take it to the microscope and look at the bacteria sample.

Choose the microscope setting

Once you have carefully placed your microscope slide, you will see the different types of bacteria moving around on a screen. Before you can look at the bacteria in more detail you need to choose a setting for the microscope. Compare the microscopes brightfield and darkfield modes, and then choose which you think is the best for getting a clear and detailed look at the bacteria. Then get ready to dive deeper into this microscopic environment.

Identify the shapes

Jump into the Antarctic bacteria sample, to explore the motility features and shapes of bacteria. Identify the names for the different bacterial shapes and observe how each of the bacteria moves. There is much to discover in this microscopic world! What will you learn today?

Get Started Now

Explore different bacterial shapes by using a microscope to look at a sample of bacteria from Antarctica.

Techniques in Lab

  • Microscopy
  • Brightfield and darkfield microscopy

Learning Objectives

  • Describe and differentiate between the most common shapes of bacteria
  • Describe the movement of each of the bacterial shapes

Simulation Features

Length – 15 minutes
Accessibility mode – Available
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards


Biology/Microbiology related 1st and 2nd year


No direct alignment


No direct alignment


Biology 7.2 Variation in populations

Screenshots of Bacterial Shapes and Movement Virtual Lab Simulation


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