ArticlePDF Available

“Pick-up Lines”: A Fun Way to Facilitate Learning Microbiological Concepts †


Abstract and Figures

Learning microbiology can be made fun by writing funny lines related to microbiology. Students were tasked to create their own pick-up lines and explain these based on their understanding of the basic concepts in microbiology.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 299
Volume 15, Number 2
Tips & Tools
©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
license ( and, which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.
Correspo nding author. Mailing addre ss: Dr. Thoma s Edison E. dela Cruz,
Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, University of
Santo Tomas, España 1015 Manila, Philippines. Phone: 632-406-1611,
ext. 8297. Fax: 632-731-4031. E-mail: tedelacruz@mnl.ust
†Supplemental materials available at
Learning microbiology need not be boring. In fact,
as teachers, we often nd ways to make learning fun and
enjoyable for our students. In our classroom, we employ
movies (2) or online games (1) to facilitate learning that will
not bore our students. In the Philippines, a popular culture
has just recently emerged among the young generation. It
reects the fun-loving nature of many Filipinos. Dubbed
“pick-up lines,” it entails creating funny lines whereby the
lover compares his or her loved one to anything. This
is often done by asking if the person is the object being
compared to, followed by a line that explains or justies
the comparison. For example, a man will ask his girlfriend
if she is the sun. The girlfriend would ask why and the
man would respond “because she brightens his day.” Such
fun lines became popular in the Philippines and became a
colloquial expression of feelings intermixed with humor.
Recognizing the connection that the younger generation
has with this pop culture, a tactic was devised to facilitate
comprehension of basic concepts in microbiology by de-
veloping “pick-up” lines.
As an individual or a group take-home assignment,
students were tasked to develop ve “pick-up” lines related
to microbiology. After every “pick-up” line they prepared,
the students were also asked to explain the microbiology
concept(s) behind their lines. Students shared these in front
of a class and discussed the principles or concepts behind
these fun lines. The class could vote on th e best “pick- up”
line(s) following set criteria. As a take-home task, points
were given for every “pick-up” line prepared. After the
activity, the students were surveyed for their perception
of the activity. They were informed of the purpose of the
survey and that participation in the survey would not in
any way affect their grade. Participants were requested to
sign an informed consent to participate in the survey. No
safety issue was encountered in this study.
Thirty-seven sophomore students taking the B. Sc.
Microbiology program were part of the study group. The
students were enrolled in the General Microbiology course
and were 16 to 17 years old. The activity was part of the
graded take-home assignments the students needed to sub-
mit following a lecture or towards the end of the semester.
A prior informed consent form was secured before a survey
of the students’ perception of the activity was conducted.
The survey questions were previously evaluated by the
university’s ethics review board.
It is important in teaching technical courses to consider
the age of the students in order to devise learning activities
that they can appreciate or that are appropriate for their age
level. It is also useful to understand their culture and utilize
technologies or even popular culture known to them. For
example, we have used social networking sites like Facebook
to facilitate learning. In the Philippines, a colloquial, popular
culture recently emerged involving creating humorous lines to
express one’s admiration of others. Though not to be taken
seriously, it created a funny atmosphere between couples or
among friends. I used this recent popular culture as a strategy to
assess undergraduate students’ understanding of basic concepts
in microbiology. They were tasked to develop “pick-up” lines
involving ideas, concepts, or organisms in microbiology and
provide a short explanation for these lines. Examples of “pick-
up” lines developed by the students related to parts or func-
tions of the cell or compared someone to a cell or cell parts.
Concept: A agellum is a thread-like structure found in
microorganisms that enables them to move or swim.
Their movement towards or away from a stimulus is
termed taxis.
Concept: Cell wall protects and provides shape to
the cell.
In some fun lines, the target of affection or the feeling
is compared to an organism.
“Pick-up Lines”: A Fun Way to Facilitate Learning Microbiological Concepts
Thomas Edison E. dela Cruz
Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education
Volume 15, Number 2
MyloveforyouislikethatofDeinococcus radiodurans.
Concept: The unusual organism, Deinococcusradiodurans,
can tolerate a high dose of radiation that is deadly for
most organisms. This organism falls under the group
of Deinococcus-Thermus which are highly adapted for
extreme environments. The property of being radiotol-
erant can be accounted for by the overall structure of
the cell. For instance, they have a highly stable cell wall
and their DNA is protected by certain proteins that
maintain its integrity.
The activity was well received by the students (see Table
1). All but one agreed that the activity helped them to learn and
understand concepts in microbiology. The activity also allowed
them to appreciate microbiology and develop their creative
or artistic skills in writing humorous lines. The majority were
also motivated to share microbiology with others. Out of 37
students, 36 enjoyed the activity and said that it was fun. Some
of the comments received from the activity were as follows:
The activity was fun and, at the same time, challeng-
ing. You need a mastery of the subject to appreciate
the “pick-up” lines.
This class activity requires creativity and knowledge
of microbiology concepts.
The activity was very helpful in remembering mi-
crobial concepts in a fun manner.
This activity really helped me understand some con-
cepts in microbiology. It is not that easy to create
such creative “pick-up” lines so I was really forced
to read and understand microbiological terms. This
so far has been the most fun and useful activity that
I have ever encountered in my college life.
The class activity was unusual but we had fun doing
it for we enjoy things that we can relate with our
lives as teenagers and incorporate microbiological
concepts as well.
Generally, student participants enjoyed the class
activity and were challenged to be more creative in
their pick-up lines. But, what makes this learning activ-
ity a “hit” for students is the fact that they relate well
to the task. As one student noted, it helped the lessons
relate to their lives as teenagers. Thus, this study simply
shows that incorporating popular culture in our lessons
motivates our students to learn more about the concepts
we are teaching.
Appendix 1: Additional examples of “pick-up” lines
related to microbiology
The au t h o r de c l ar e s th a t th e r e are no conict s of interest .
1. Bowling, K. G., Y. Klisch, S. Wang, and M. Beier. 2013.
Examining an online microbiology game as an effective tool
for teaching the scientic process. J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ.
14: 58 65.
2. Sanchez, M. 2011. Bugs and movies: using lm to teach
microbiology. J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. 12:206–207.
Student participants’ perception of the class activity using a Likert scale of 1 to 4 (n = 37).
Strongly Disagree
Strongly Agree
The class activity helped me to learn and understand the concepts in
1 0 19 17
The class activity helped me appreciate microbiology. 1 0 18 18
The class activity helped me develop my creative skills. 1 0 8 28
The class activity motivated me to teach/share microbiology to others. 1 6 16 14
I enjoyed the class activity. 1 0 12 24

Supplementary resource (1)

... Some examples of active learning activities as applied to the teaching of undergraduate microbiology courses are outlined in the papers of dela Cruz (2020) and Mendoza (2020). An additional fun and engaging learning activity for students is the use of pick-up lines to facilitate learning of microbiology concepts (dela Cruz, 2014). Clapton (2015) stated that popular culture, such as pick-up lines which became widespread in the Philippines, can be used as a teaching tool to develop understanding of concepts and complex theories and as part of assessment strategies. ...
Mycology in the Tropics: Updates on Philippine Fungi comprehensively discusses the current state of Philippine mycology, including historical developments in the field, listings of fungi with diverse utilizations or applications, and those that cause economic impact on crop production in the country. Specifically, the chapters in the book introduce tropical mycology, describe different fungal groups, their biodiversity and conservation, and give insights into the applications of mycology in agriculture, health, industry and the environment. The book also includes quarantine regulations on economically important diseases and describes the importance of developing local studies on fungi.
Full-text available
Creating info-posters or infographics on science themes, topics, or issues can be used to teach skills that develop students’ creativity and ability to communicate science to the public. The ability to transmit scientific data to a generalist audience or a certain target group is one of the soft skills that need to be cultivated among our students. This article presents simple assessment tasks to create info-posters or infographics.
Full-text available
Hugot lines have become popular among Filipinos nowadays. Cabajar (2016) claims that these lines have emerged because Filipinos are imaginative in playing with language in different forms as evident on how they would include humor in constructing these lines to catch audience's attention. Azores hugot as 'pulling out' and expressing deepest emotions such as happiness, sadness, bitterness, and the like toward something or someone. Given the paucity of studies conducted on this particular genre, this study explored hugot lines in relation to the concept of code-switching (CS) through analyzing their syntactic structures, conversational functions, and motivations. A total of 40 hugot lines were collected analyzed by examining CS constituents and classifying them based on the Three Types of Code-switching by Poplack (1998) and the Intrasentential Code-switch by based on Gumperz's (1982) and Tajolosa's (2013) frameworks, respectively. noun phrases were commonly employed at the word and phrase levels, respectively. Personalization was the most commonly used conversational function, and this indicates the closer distance between speakers and addressees as well as the preference for a less formal discourse. Language economy as a common motivation for CS means that speakers employ CS to save time and lessen the effort in the use of language and to be clearer in expressing their feelings, emotions, and opinions through hugot lines.
Full-text available
This study investigates the effectiveness of the online Flash game Disease Defenders in producing knowledge gains for concepts related to the scientific process. Disease Defenders was specifically designed to model how the scientific process is central to a variety of disciplines and science careers. An additional question relates to the game's ability to shift attitudes toward science. Middle school classes from grades six to eight were assigned to the experimental group (n = 489) or control group (n = 367) and asked to participate in a three-session intervention. The sessions involved completing a pretest, a game play session, and taking a posttest. Students in the experimental group played Disease Defenders while students in the control group played an alternative science game. Results showed a significant increase in mean science knowledge scores for all grades in the experimental group, with sixth grade and seventh grade students gaining more knowledge than eighth grade students. Additionally, results showed a significant positive change in science attitudes only among sixth graders, who also rated their satisfaction with the game more favorably than students in higher grades. No differences in mean test scores were found between genders for science knowledge or science attitudes, suggesting that the game is equally effective for males and females.
Full-text available
A YouTube channel has been created to watch commented video fragments from famous movies or TV series that can be used to teach microbiology. Although microbes are usually depicted in terms of their roles in causing infectious disease, numerous movies reflect other scientific aspects, such as biotechnological applications or bioethical issues.