Learn About GIANTmicrobes®
- What are GIANTmicrobes® ?
- Brand Overview
- GIANTmicrobes® and Science
- GIANTmicrobes® and Health
- GIANTmicrobes® and Education
- Cultural Impact
- About the Company
What are GIANTmicrobes® ?
GIANTmicrobes® are stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes — only a million times actual size! They're humorous, educational, and fun.
Originally designed as a teaching tool to help small children learn about the importance of hand-washing, as the company has grown, GIANTmicrobes® have been created for many other purposes. There are now over a hundred designs depicting everything from the cells of the body, to the probiotic creatures that improve health, to the philanthropic microbes that make bread and yogurt, to the aquatic amoebas and paramecium familiar to high school students, to a wide range of medical pathogens.
The goal of the Giantmicrobes company is to produce educational vehicles based on accurate science to promote a greater understanding of the huge impact that tiny creatures have on our world.
The microscopic world is as alien to most people as outer space. It is teaming with life, and its impact on our own world and lives is vast. But because it is invisible to the naked eye, it is mysterious and even scary to many people. (The fact that many of the microbes that make the news cause trouble can also lead to a certain prejudice against their kind…)
GIANTmicrobes® present the microscopic world in a fun, approachable manner. By doing so, they allow for a uniquely engaging approach to learning about the microscopic world – and our world.
Think about it. Everyone gets a cold or a stomach ache from time to time. And it is very important to understand why.
But we are also made of microscopic organisms: from brain cells, to nerve cells, to blood cells, to stem cells, every one of us is a civilization of microbes. By learning about microbes, we learn about ourselves.
In addition, there are many domesticated microbial creatures that provide innumerable benefits to us. From the yeast cells that make our bread, wine, and yogurt, to the workhorses that compost our leftovers and clean-up our oil spills, microbes have been helping humanity from the beginning of time.
Finally, there are innumerable microbes with funny names (like Amoebas and Hydras and Euglenas and Paramecium) that simply go about their own little lives with no concern or interaction with us at all. But they are just as worth learning about as it is worth learning about any aspect of the universe:
Because they are wonderful.
GIANTmicrobes® and Science
GIANTmicrobes® characters are designed to be appealing personalities which can engage their audience at many levels. But they are not simply whimsical creatures that are an exercise and product of artistic imagination. Rather, every one of the GIANTmicrobes® is scientifically-based on a real microscopic image of an actual microbe.
The core microbial body types (circles, rods, spirals, chains, etc.) are always maintained. But in addition, morphological attributes of real microbes (such as the natural bumps of the rhinovirus, or the strands of flagella on the Salmonella bacterium) are used to create such anthropological features as noses and hair. So while the designs are always intended to be endearing, they are always firmly rooted in science.
And this is important, because from the beginning, GIANTmicrobes® teach an important lesson about the microscopic world, namely: that microscopic organisms are not simply undifferentiated blobs of protoplasm. They are individual creatures worthy of study and understanding.
But creating personalities is just the first step. The real goal is to create a sense of wonder and fun about a hidden world.
While the microbial world may exist in the same physical space as our own, it has its own rules. Besides the obvious fact that microbes are tiny, they have many other unique characteristics. For example, some have lifespans measured in eons; others live for only a few minutes (before they divide). They are the oldest form of life – but where did they come from? How do they work together to make us who we are?
These are the deepest of questions, and GIANTmicrobes® have inspired many young would-be scientists to nourish their natural sense of curiosity about the world. They have also found a place in the hearts, classrooms, and laboratories of working scientists and on every continent across the globe.
GIANTmicrobes® and Health
GIANTmicrobes® were originally designed as a preventive health aid for small children. But the non-threatening nature of our plush and cartoon characters has allowed GIANTmicrobes® to play a continuing and valuable role in many other areas of health education.
Although it is now common knowledge that germs cause disease, because germs are invisible, there is a still a sense of chance, resignation, and even fate, concerning infectious disease. No one would tempt fate by approaching an uncaged lion; we see lions and we know they are real and dangerous. And yet most people fail to exercise appropriate precautions with respect to microbes, which are equally real and can be no less menacing, by simply washing their hands for 15 seconds before they eat.
Partly this is explained because our experience shows us that the risks of infection are comparatively small – and our own bodies are also experts at maintaining their perimeter. But partly, it is because we simply forget that there are real, tiny, microscopic creatures that are all around us all the time. We forget because we can’t see them.
GIANTmicrobes® close that gap in our experience and create an important awareness of this unseen world. This is of particular value in developing countries, where both children and adults face so many challenging health issues.
But infectious disease is not only the only area of health where GIANTmicrobes® add value. Our bodies themselves are a community of microbes working together in harmony to maintain their civilization. Learning about the individuals that comprise this civilization teaches us a great deal about ourselves, but it is also as fascinating to study as any any real-world civilization somewhere on the globe.
Furthermore, by focusing attention on individual cells, rather than body processes, we channel our natural interest in knowing other individuals towards learning about these creatures, and thereby develop a much greater understanding of ourselves.
GIANTmicrobes® and Education
The GIANTmicrobes® designs are based on science, and that provides a large amount of learning right from the start. But each of our products also includes specific information about the particularly creature that it represents. When was it discovered, and by whom? Where does it live? Why is it important to us, and what is its impact on our world? Is it pathogenic, and if so how can it be avoided? How has it contributed to scientific research, or affected commerce or military history? Does it provide a useful service to humanity, or shed light on the origin of life?
These and many more important questions are introduced and explored by the wide range of GIANTmicrobes®. They are a valuable learning tool in both school-based settings, and in casual situations with family and friends.
GIANTmicrobes® have made a valuable and unique contribution to science, education, and health. But they have also made a meaningful impact on popular culture, both in the United States and around the world.
GIANTmicrobes® are not a small idea. They have attracted widespread media attention both nationally and internationally. They have been featured in many museums exhibitions, including an exhibit at the Museum of Art (MoMa) in New York. They are hugely popular on college campuses; the company has attracted tens of thousands of FaceBook fans.
Here is a just small sample of what people are saying about Giantmicrobes:
“Jim Henson’s Muppets made pigs and frogs endearing and Walt Disney turned a common rodent into a cultural icon. Now, Drew Oliver thinks it’s time for bacteria, viruses and other maligned microorganisms to share the love.” - The Associated Press
“They are actually a great way to make coughs and colds a bit less scary for kids.” - WIRED UK
“Our partnership with GIANTmicrobes® helps us teach kids and families about blood and the importance of blood donation. Every year, GIANTmicrobes® exceeds our expectations by creating exclusive custom products for our Pint Size Hero program.”- Marketing Program Manager, American Red Cross
“Half hysterically funny, half practical.” - Nickelodeon Parents Connect
“GIANTmicrobes® allow children to see the ‘face’ of the otherwise invisible bugs that may cause them illness. They show them the reasons it’s so important to wash their hands and practice good hygiene.” - Director, Clinical Microbiology & Immunology New York University Langone Medical Center
“Great teaching tools.”- Playthings
“I use GIANTmicrobes® products during my Health Education and Risk Reduction presentations to teach teens and young adults about how important it is to be aware and protect themselves.” - Youth Health Educator, Bureau of HIV, STD and Hepatitis Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services
“Our pre-med students at Johns Hopkins University are true fans of GIANTmicrobes® which have become a key classification within our gift division over the past two years. We’re looking forward to continued growth.” - Buyer, Johns Hopkins University Bookstore
About the Company
The Giantmicrobes company was started in 2002. Over the past ten years, the company has grown from a small startup with four products (plush dolls representing the Common Cold, Flu, Sore Throat, Stomach Ache) to a multinational corporation with distribution on 5 continents.
Our products have been translated into 10 languages , and over 10 million Giantmicrobes® in over 100 microbial designs have now been sold.
Our distribution network includes nearly 5,000 retailers including mom-and-pop gift shops and bookstores, to major science museums, educational catalogs, and big-box retailers such as Barnes and Nobles and Toys R Us.
In addition to the GIANTmicrobes® Originals plush dolls, the company now also produces educational products, hand washing kits, vinyl collectibles, seasonal merchandise, and digital apps as part of the GIANTmicrobes® world.
We have worked with numerous pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Merck, and Astrazeneca on corporate promotional programs. Major charitable organizations such as the American Red Cross have used our products for consumer outreach.
Given the innumerable ways that the microscopic world impacts our lives, the growth potential of the company continues to be enormous.