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Life Science

  • Tied Up in Protein Synthesis (or Lost in Translation): A Kinesthetic and Inquiry-Based Approach to Teaching the Central Dogma of Biology In this exercise, students tie Windsor knots to create a translation product from mRNA instructions—a protein “necktie.” Your classroom is the nucleus, and the hallway is cytoplasm. View »
  • Bringing Real-World STEM Experiences to the Classroom by using miniPCR For schools grappling with budget constraints, biotech equipment costs can make it difficult to give students true-to-life learning experiences. One biology teacher has found a new resource that makes real-world instruction more affordable. View »
  • Bacteria: The Indole Test In this lab students perform a differential test to distinguish bacteria based on the production of indole. Bacteria are grown on media containing tryptophan and then treated with Kovac’s reagent. If they possess the enzyme tryptophanase, the bacteria can metabolize tryptophan into indole, pyruvic acid, and ammonia. View »
  • Bacteriophages in Human Disease: Friends and Foes Help your students understand the connection between bacteriophages and human disease. This scholarly overview explores how bacteriophages have helped and hindered humans in their quest to overcome certain diseases. Use it as assigned reading or to kick off a classroom discussion. View »
  • Introduction to Prokaryotes: Bacteria What are bacteria? In this introductory lab students make smears of bacteria on microscope slides from pure cultures, perform a simple stain, and observe their stained slides under a microscope View »
  • Bacterial Motility In this lab, students perform two exercises that investigate microbial motility. One is on a microscopic level, using the “hanging drop” slide preparation method to directly observe motile cells. The second exercise is on a macroscopic level and involves inoculating motility test media. View »
  • Bacterial Hydrolysis of Casein In this lab, students culture two bacteria on skim milk agar. The protein casein gives milk its white color. Some bacteria secrete protease enzymes that can hydrolyze casein. When these bacteria are grown on skim milk agar a clear area develops around the colonies, indicating that casein has been hydrolyzed into its component amino acids. View »
  • Bacterial Growth on MacConkey Agar In this lab students culture three bacteria on nutrient agar and MacConkey agar and record the results. View »
  • Restriction Enzyme Road Trip: Enduring Understandings in DNA Biotechnology Employing an entertaining road trip analogy, students will model restriction enzyme digestion and demonstrate their learning by modeling the separation of the resulting “DNA” fragments by gel electrophoresis. View »
  • Debunking the 4° C Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Myth Do samples need to be refrigerated immediately after PCR? No. You can leave them at room temperature overnight—and much longer! The founders of miniPCR® explore why. View »
  • Bacterial Hydrolysis of Lipids In this lab, students culture two species of bacteria on agar medium that contains an emulsion of plant oils and the dye, sprit blue, which forms a complex with the triglycerides of the oils and gives an opaque blue color to the agar. Colonies of bacteria that can secrete lipase, an enzyme that hydrolyzes triglycerides, develop a light area or “halo” in the surrounding medium, due to the diffusion of lipase into the medium and the resultant breakdown of the oil/spirit blue complex. View »
  • Introduction to Prokaryotes: Cyanobacteria In this lab students observe two examples of cyanobacteria and make a simple comparison to a eukaryotic green alga. View »
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