Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero™: Chapters 1 - 4 (Home Starter Pack)

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About the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero™: 1 - 4 (Home Pack)

Become a Genetic Engineering Hero!

Learn to extract DNA, grow friendly bacteria, make bio-art, and engineer bacteria by adding DNA from sea creatures!

The Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Kit Pack (Chapters 1-4) includes everything you need to complete Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Genetic Engineering Hero Learning Journey outlined in Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero: The beginner’s guide to programming bacteria at home, school & in the makerspace.

Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero is over 65,000 words and 130 color illustrations to take you from knowing little to nothing about genetic engineering to having the same basic training you would gain in university. The Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Beginner’s Guide book contains more than a dozen hands-on biotechnology exercises, 160 pages of theory, concepts, discussion questions, "Going Deeper" and "Pro-tip" sections. 

It is the most cutting-edge and accessible technical book about genetic engineering and biotechnology explicitly made for beginners. Whether you are looking to learn more about and participate in science fairs, DIYbio, the iGEM or Biodesign competitions; teach middle school and high school students; set up a responsible DIY biohacking lab; want to experience what a biotechnology career could be; or even prepare for university & AP biology, this book can help! Teenagers aged 12-14 edited this book, so we're confident that it is accessible and valuable to beginners and intermediate learners of all ages. 

The life science experiment kits included in this pack will take you through the first part of the Genetic Engineering Hero's journey; to doing genetic engineering! This kit pack includes individual experiment kits and is ideal for individuals, small groups, and families to discover the exciting and promising world of biotechnology. 

“The book, the DNA Playground, Zero to Hero starter kits, and my centrifuge gave me an understanding of what genetic engineering is and how you can program bacteria to make things. It was so exciting that I’m asking my science teacher to start an iGEM team next year that will compete in the High School iGEM league.” Pau, 12-year-old, Washington, DC, USA.

Meet a Genetic Engineering Hero: Patricia, a 14-year-old from Markham, Canada, started her Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero journey at age 12 and was recently featured at MIT Media Lab's global biosummit, and on the news for her award-winning science projects. Hear Patricia talk about her work to CBC News here.

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What will you learn?

Introduction: Take the Genetic Engineers’ Pledge

Chapter 1 - Isolating DNA, the Blueprints of Life:

  • extract and see real genomic DNA from strawberries using the DNA extraction kit,
  • assemble a DNA structure utilizing a drag and drop simulator,
  • discover 'What is DNA?', 'What is DNA's function?', and 'What is DNA made of?',
  • learn about the history of DNA, its evolution, the road to precisely editing DNA and its future,
  • understand how DNA can be used in biotechnology to create products,
  • understand how atoms, molecules, macromolecules (nucleic acid), and nucleotides come into play.


Chapter 2 - Safety & setting up your Genetic Engineering Hero Space

  • learn about the 4 Biosafety levels & how to stay safe & responsible during your biotechnology science projects,
  • discover the rules & regulations in biotechnology,
  • set up your own lab - What type of laboratory equipment is necessary? What kind of locations can be used for a safe & responsible biotechnology lab,
  • learn how to inactivate your biotechnology science experiments and clean up your laboratory, 
  • download a laboratory safety checklist, a biosafety poster, and a biosecurity poster,
  • understand the ethics, lab safety & best practices surrounding genetic engineering and biotechnology.


Chapter 3 - Growing E. coli cells

  • grow colorful, friendly lab-strain of bacteria and use it to make bioart  in a virtual simulator and then in real-life using the Canvas kit (optional hands-on),
  • learn the difference between safe laboratory E. coli vs. ‘bad’ E. coli and its history,
  • learn 'What is a cell?'
  • tour the cell structure using the  Cells as (micro) factories analogy - a comparison between factories and cells.
  • discover the role of macromolecules: carbs, lipids, proteins


Chapter 4 - Genetic Engineering your E. coli cells

  • engineer bacteria (cells) with a pre-made DNA program in a virtual simulator and then in real-life using the Engineer-it kit (optional hands-on),
  • learn the primary operating environment of a cell,
  • start understanding how cells read DNA: How do cells know how to start, do and stop reading DNA (transcription),
  • discover 'What is a gene?' 
  • find out what DNA plasmids are and how to use them in biotechnology.


During this STEM biotechnology journey, you will learn how to use bacteria and DNA to make with biology. Once you are done, you will have completed the first part of the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero's journey; genetically engineering bacteria with DNA plasmids! From there, you can continue your Genetic Engineering Hero journey with Chapters 5, 6, and 7 to learn about advanced biotechnology concepts and skills like enzymes, genetic switches, DNA plasmid maps, and more! 

View the full learning journey here.

What's included?

The Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Kit Pack (Chapters 1-4) includes:

• (1) DNA Extraction Kit - Individual - one experiment to learn how to extract DNA from fruit (Ch. 1)
• (1) Canvas Kit - Individual - one experiment to learn the basics of growing bacteria (Ch. 3)
• (1) Engineer-it Kit - Individual - one experiment to learn and practice genetic engineering. (Ch. 4)
• Instructions: a manual for each kit, with easy-to-understand vocabulary and step-by-step procedures and three online experiment simulations to practice with, teach you fundamentals, and guide you along the way. See the Resources tab for links.

You also have the option to add the following to your pack (have a look at the What else is needed tab to see if you need to add these):

• Optional (1) Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Guide Book if you don't already have it!
• Optional (1) DNA Playground all-in-one Minilab for completing life science projects like a pro! The DNA Playground is a small and convenient all-in-one piece of laboratory equipment that can be used in your room, living room, office, ... anywhere you like! Because of its small size, it can be stored away when not in use, so there is no need to transform an entire room into a DIY laboratory. You will find all the necessary lab setup, regulatory, and safety information in Chapter 2 of the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero book. The DNA Playground can be re-used after you finish this starter pack with any of our experiment kits or other companies' biotechnology experiment supplies. Two sizes of DNA Playgrounds are available; choose from either the Home or Large version. The DNA Playground home is perfect for completing one experiment at a time. The DNA Playground large is ideal for those looking to complete multiple experiments at once, for the classrooms, and for those who plan to do science fair, R&D, or personal science projects in the future. The DNA Playground large also includes a built-in tri-color LED.
• Optional (1) Mini Safety Set is enough pairs of medium gloves for every experiment day and a reusable, one-size-fits-all wipeable plastic apron to use as a lab coat.

What else is needed?

All the required laboratory and science equipment is included in this pack if the DNA Playground(s) is added from the drop-down.

If you have your own laboratory equipment which includes a 37°C incubator, hot water bath, thermometer, crushed ice & ice bucket, that will work too!

Cleaning and safety supplies are not included in the kit. Necessary safety and cleaning supplies are latex or nitrile gloves, and a chlorinated bleach cleaner or a 10% solution of chlorinated bleach in a spray bottle (you can make this by adding 9 parts water to 1 part bleach in a spray bottle). You can add a Mini Safety Set to your kit which includes gloves and a reusable plastic apron to protect your clothes.

For more information about safety, set up and clean up, you can have a look at the instruction manual for the experiment linked in the Ressources section below, and at the "Practicing safe science" page.

Storage & Shipping

Shipping Times

Experiment kits are shipped 1-10 working days after you place your order. If you require yours for a specific date or event, please contact us before or with your order # so that we can try to make it happen for you! ☺︎ 


For the best results, and the longest shelf life possible, refrigerate the kit(s) upon arrival. You'll find a "Best by" date on the kit's label. This date assumes you've refrigerated your kit upon arrival.

If your experiment kits stay at room temperature before you collect them from your mailbox/mailroom/etc, that's ok! As long as kits do not freeze, and they are stored in a refrigerator if you are not using them right away, there's no need to worry. If you do not have access to a refrigerator to store your kit, use it as soon as possible, and place it in a cool dark place until use.

For any questions, don't hesistate to reach out to us - contact us

Remote Learning

This pack is ideal for remote learning, with or without the DNA Playground and book.

If you are an educator, don't hesitate to contact us for bulk purchases of kits to be sent directly to your students along with mini-safety sets.