Our hands-on MiniLabs are a fun and engaging series of modules that take students from mastery of basic biotech skills, through popular applications of electrophoresis in forensics, DNA fingerprinting, and human genetics, and finally to a challenging, real-world investigation of a foodborne outbreak. The entire series can be completed in a week or used throughout your curriculum to add an inquiry-based and visually engaging connection to modern biotechnology.



PCR 101 and Gel Electrophoresis MiniLab

Learn the fundamentals of PCR with the PCR 101 and Gel Electrophoresis MiniLab.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is an essential technique in today’s molecular biology and biotech applications. Starting with a small sample of DNA scientists can produce billions of copies of a specific fragment quickly and affordably. With our PCR 101 and Gel Electrophoresis MiniLab students amplify fragments from the Lambda phage genome while learning the mechanism of DNA amplification with PCR and analyze their results using gel electrophoresis.


Gel Loading Practice Kit

Master loading, handling, and dispensing liquids with micropipettes – skills that are essential in any biotech lab.

An adjustable volume micropipette is the most ubiquitous tool in every biotech lab. Mastering its use is the gateway to delivering accurate and reproducible results from an experiment. Students first learn how to read and adjust the numerical display to accurately dispense small volumes of liquid onto plastic “target practice” cards. They then progress to loading practice agar gels, which deliver an experience that closely approximates the real feel of loading an electrophoresis gel. Practice gels have enough wells that every student can load multiple wells until they have mastered the technique. Students will complete this MiniLab with the practical skills and confidence they need to be successful with more advanced inquiry-based MiniLabs.


Electrophoresis 101 MiniLab

Teach the fundamentals of DNA separation with this accessible and affordable MiniLab.

One of the most popular MiniLabs with teachers, Electrophoresis 101 is a comprehensive introduction to the theory and practice of electrophoresis in an affordable, accessible package. Students pour, load, and run their own gels, observing the separation of dyes and DNA bands in real-time, and then plot a standard curve of size vs. migration distance to determine the sizes of unknown DNA fragments. In a single classroom period your students will gain the experience necessary to fully engage with and understand more advanced electrophoresis labs.


PTC Genetics MiniLab

Have a taste for genetics? Solve a mystery while learning how dominant and recessive traits affect our daily lives.

Investigate the case of Jillian, a student who cannot taste the bitter compound PTC, even though everyone in her immediate family can. Does Jillian have ancestors who couldn’t taste PTC or was she adopted? Engage students with DNA analysis and Mendelian genetics as they connect genotype with phenotype and solve the mystery. The PTC Genetics MiniLab is a perfect extension to any curriculum exploring population genetics, heredity, or human biology.


DNA Fingerprinting MiniLab

Which whale is Luna’s father? DNA fingerprinting tells the tale.

One of the most popular labs for first time MiniOne users, our DNA Fingerprinting MiniLab challenges students’ pattern analysis skills as they sort through an array of bands to determine the parentage of an endangered humpback whale calf. Students gain the complete hands-on experience of pouring, loading, and running a gel while diving into real-world genetics and conservation biology. Learn how DNA banding patterns can reveal the history and heritage of an individual, whether whale or human, while observing DNA separation in real time.


CSI Forensics MiniLab

Who killed Dr. Ward? Use fingerprinting, hair analysis, and DNA profiling to solve the crime.

Crime scene investigation is one of the most well-known and controversial applications of DNA profiling. The CSI Forensics MiniLab offers a compelling scenario that is sure to engage your students with electrophoresis and DNA analysis. Learn how multiple lines of evidence are used to connect an individual with the scene of the crime. Students use hair samples, fingerprints, and DNA banding patterns revealed by gel electrophoresis to determine which suspect could have killed Dr. Ward.


Forensic Science: Foodborne Outbreak Investigation MiniLab

It’s in the news, it’s in your food. Design an experiment to find out which food made the party-goers ill.

AP Biology students become epidemiologists in this challenging lab based on a real-world Shigella outbreak. Over two days students will construct a hypothesis based on interview data, design an experiment to test their hypothesis, then set up and run their experiment using gel electrophoresis. Along the way, students will explore the concepts of PCR and its role in food safety and public health research, and learn the importance of positive and negative controls for sensitive molecular assays. Lively class discussion is sure to follow as students interpret their data and critique each other’s experimental design.


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