"Uninvited Guests" - April/May 2012

Current Health Kids

 

Kirsten Weir wrote for her young readers about the microbes that inhabit our bodies and help in many cases to keep invading organisms at bay. “Kids often seem to think that science is something that happens in a laboratory or a faraway place,” Weir said. “I loved that this story underscored how much is still unknown about the organisms living right under our noses (not to mention the rest of our bodies).”

Weir described for her young readers the parasites, microbes, and creepy-crawlies that live in (and on) the human body. In her lively tour of our hitch-hiking microbial community, Weir noted: “There are more of them than there are of us.” She cautioned her readers not to be freaked out by the trillions of microbial stowaways, noting that most of them are essential and help prevent other, more harmful bacteria from moving in. Catherine Hughes, senior editor for science at National Geographic Kids, said Weir used humor, analogy, and a great opening paragraph “to pull in and keep her readers.” She said Weir’s “well-placed use of figures and numbers added more “wow” factors to the topic.” Weir noted, for example, that when researchers stuck cotton swabs into the navels of 90 people, they found about 1400 species of microbes, many of which had never been seen before. “This piece was beautifully written, broke down a complex subject and included excellent reporting,” said Lisa Friedman, deputy editor of ClimateWire. “I learned something from it, and I think kids will too.”