Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Classroom Pack (Chapters 5-7)


Building off of Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Classroom Pack (Chapters 1-4), this kit pack includes a series of advanced kits that leverage the skills and knowledge learned in previous chapters. Learners will continue towards more advanced subjects such as extracting proteins from the cells that they have engineered, expressing enzymes to catalyze chemical reactions, and controlling the expression of genes using chemicals, heat, and light. 

In addition to completing fun and engaging activities, further real-world lab skills such as centrifugation, culturing cells, inducing expression, filter sterilization are practiced.

While the activities and learnings in Chapters 5-7 delve into more advanced genetic engineering concepts and skills, these kits can be used by teachers and students with no life science research experience and do not require pipettes. As you will read in Chapter 2 of Zero to Genetic Engineering, to do these advanced kits an additional piece of lab equipment is required, a microcentrifuge.

What's Included?

Extract-it Group Kit (Chapter 5)

The natural next step after a student learns how to engineer cells with a plasmid and how the cell reads the DNA plasmid gene (transcription) is to learn how to extract those engineered proteins from the cells and from a Fundamental concepts standpoint, to learn the process that the cells use to read the RNA and translate proteins (translation). The hands-on exercise of extracting and then holding in their hands the proteins the students have engineered is a great anchor point for the Fundamentals section of Chapter 5, Translation. In the hands-on exercise, the students use every skill they have learned in Chapters 1-4, including lysing cells, streaking cells, incubating cells, and engineering cells!

Because the advanced kits are usually completed in higher level classes with fewer students, they come in packs of four kits. The Extract-it Kit comes with four individually packed kits that can be passed out to student groups. In addition to a DNA Playground Large, this kit requires the use of a microcentrifuge.


Smell-it Group Kit & Blue-it Kit (Chapter 6)

Now that the students have mastered the basic concepts of cell function and lab skills of genetic engineering, Chapter 6 to dive deeper into the chemistry that makes cells function, as well as a very important topic of genetic engineering - using enzymes to cause chemical reactions. The Smell-it Kit enables students to first engineer bacteria with a plasmid that creates an enzyme and then culture those cells with a substrate added to the LB agar plates. The students marvel as their engineered cells transform the musky smelling substrate into an overripe banana scent. The Blue-it Kit also includes the engineering of bacteria to produce an enzyme. In the Blue-it Kit, however, the students engineer the cells, extract the engineered enzyme and complete a chemical reaction in a tube. The enzyme will convert a white powder into a vivid blue chemical.

The Fundamentals of Chapter 6 use the hands-on exercises as anchor points and dive deeper into chemical reactions. An important part of chemical reactions is bonding, and so a light introduction to atoms and the four types of bonds are discussed. Ultimately the students leave with a true understanding of not only what proteins are, but how they function.

Four of each the Smell-it Kit and Blue-it Kit are included as individually packed kits that can be handed out to students. Note that these kits require that 4 Petri dishes with cells be simultaneously incubated at one time per kit and so a DNA Playground Large can only be used by two groups of students. In addition to a DNA Playground Large, the Blue-it Kit requires the use of a microcentrifuge.


Heat-it Kit, Induce-it Kit, and RGB Kit (Chapter 7)

With a good understanding of transcription (Chapter 4) and translation (Chapter 5) and the basic bonding used in cells (Chapter 6), students can move onto gene regulation. These three kits use three different environmental factors to control the expression of genes.

The Heat-it Kit includes a DNA plasmid with a gene that has a promoter that is responsive to temperature. At 30 °C the promoter is in an OFF state, however, at 37 °C and especially 42 °C, the promoter is able to activate expression of a colored protein. The Fundamentals section describes how the temperature sensitive promoter relates to the cells basic stress response, and in a sense, “hi-jacks” that response.

The Induce-it Kit explores the world of using chemicals to manipulate gene expression. In this instance, the students first engineer cells with a DNA plasmid containing a color-expressing gene that is sensitive to the presence of a chemical. After culturing their engineered cells, the students add the chemical to points on the Petri dish of cells and over the course of a few hours begin to see the expression of the color protein occur.

The RGB Kit includes the use of a strain of bacteria that is sensitive to light. Using the DNA Playground Large, which has an LED light in its incubator, the student chooses a color of light, which causes the expression of different color pigments. Red LED light causes the cells to create red pigment. Green LED light causes the cells to make green pigment. Blue light causes the cells to produce blue pigment. In the Fundamentals section, the gene regulation relating to the green pigment is described in detail.

Four of each of the Heat-it Kit, Induce-it Kit, and RGB Kit are included as individually packaged units that can be handed out to students. 


Microcentrifuge (optional add-on)

A microcentrifuge is an important piece of equipment that is used in every life science research laboratory in the world. A microcentrifuge is a small toaster oven sized device that you can put microcentrifuge tubes (1.5 mL lab tubes) into and then spin at high speeds. This process allows you to separate different things in your tubes, an important part of doing science. The microcentrifuge offered as an optional add-on to this kit pack can hold up to 12 microcentrifuge tubes at a time and spin at 15,000 RPM (~14,000 x g). It has a timer so you set a time, start the centrifuge and with the timer reaches zero, it will automatically stop spinning.

If you already have a microcentrifuge, select "0" microcentrifuges in the drop down.