Pre-College Programs
STEM I for Middle School - SPARK

« Return to Course Catalog

So You Want to be a Laboratory Scientist?

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Have you ever wondered what DNA looks like? Are you curious about what it is like in a laboratory, working to solve problems in the medical field? Have you ever wanted to solve a crime?

This course is designed to expose middle school students to basic laboratory research in the fields of biotechnology, microbiology, medicine, forensics and general laboratory techniques. Students will learn how to manipulate DNA, use PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and perform gel electrophoresis. Students will use various laboratory techniques to examine enzyme activity, and other biotechnology applications. In addition, students will explore various methods in microbiology, including evaluating antibiotics and their role in medicine. Other techniques may include crime solving techniques used by forensic scientists, protein isolation from DNA, techniques in cellular biology and disease detection. Students and the lab instructor will discuss how each of these techniques have impacted the field of medicine and scientific research. Field trips to several world-class research laboratories will also be part of this course, enabling students to see the techniques they have learned in action and explore other fields in science.

Students will perform ten laboratory investigations during the class. Students will become proficient in the measuring techniques and sterile techniques used in laboratory sciences. They will isolate and analyze DNA, isolate and identify proteins, use gel Electrophoresis, PCR, evaluate bacteria sensitivity to antibiotics and antiseptics, and use DNA analysis to test if foods have been genetically modified. In addition, they may use laboratory applications to solve a crime scene, simulate a disease outbreak and to test for the disease using antibodies. They will understand the background behind all of the experiments and be able to discuss the applications of these techniques in science.

Students are middle school students with varying backgrounds. There are no specific prerequisites, but students should enjoy math and science. Students should welcome, and be prepared for an intensive laboratory experience.