Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero™: Chapters 5 - 7 (Home Starter Pack)

About the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero™: 5 - 7 (Home Pack)

Building off the knowledge and skills gained in the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Pack (Chapters 1-4), this new biotechnology kit pack includes a series of advanced kits to push your learning further. Learners will continue their journey towards more advanced subjects like extracting proteins from the cells they have engineered, expressing enzymes to catalyze chemical reactions, and controlling the expression of genes using chemicals, and heat.

The life science experiment kits included in this pack will take you through the second part of the Genetic Engineering Hero's journey. In addition to completing the engaging hands-on activities mentioned above, you will also gain and practice further real-world lab skills such as microcentrifugation, culturing cells, inducing expression, and filter sterilization. While the hands-on activities and learnings in Chapters 5-7 delve into more advanced genetic engineering concepts and skills, you do not need any prior knowledge to do them. You only need to have completed Chapters 1 through 4 of the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Journey.

This kit pack includes individual experiment kits and is ideal for individuals, small groups, and families to extend their knowledge in 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.

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.


What will you learn?

Chapter 5 - Extracting your engineered proteins

  • extract the proteins created by your engineer bacteria in real-life using the Extract-it kit so that they can be used in the 'real-world' (optional hands-on),
  • continue understanding how cells know how to start, do and stop reading RNA (translation),
  • discover proteins & enzymes, promoters vs. the ribosomal binding site and the other RNAs (rRNA & tRNA),
  • learn and use the RNA to protein cipher.


    Chapter 6 - Processing Chemicals with Enzymes

    • engineer cells to created small molecules and enzymes to create products like smells and color-changing molecules using the Smell-it kit and the Blue-it kit (optional hands-on),
    • learn the basics of enzymatic chemical reactions,
    • understand the Four B’s of cell function in action,
    • discover protein enzymes as catalysis in cells,
    • learn the basic structure of atoms and the four major types of bonds,
    • explorer metabolic pathways and how they are used in genetic engineering and biotechnology. 


      Chapter 7 - Manually turning on genes in situ

      • engineer cells or use pre-engineered cells and manually turn on genes using light, chemicals, and heat to understand genetic switched in real-life using the RGB kit, the Induce-it kit and the Heat-it kit (optional hands-on),
      • learn the mechanisms of gene expression,
      • revise and apply the coding and non-coding regions of genes knowledge from Ch. 4-5,
      • explore a DNA plasmid map,
      • start setting the stage for you to design your custom DNA plasmids.


        See the full learning journey map here

        What's included?

        • (1) Extract-it Kit - Individual - (Chapter 5)
        The natural next step after learning how to engineer cells with a plasmid and how the cell reads the DNA plasmid gene (transcription), is to learn how to extract the engineered proteins from the cells. From a Fundamental concept standpoint, the next step is to learn the process that the cells use to read the RNA and create proteins (translation). The hands-on exercise of extracting the proteins that you have engineered is an excellent anchor point for the Fundamentals section of Chapter 5, Translation. In the hands-on activity, you will use every skill they have learned in Chapters 1-4, including lysing cells, streaking cells, incubating cells, and engineering cells!

        • (1) Smell-it Kit - Individual - & (1) Blue-it Kit - Individual - (Chapter 6)
        Now that you have mastered the basic concepts of cell function and lab skills of genetic engineering, Chapter 6 dives deeper into the chemistry that makes cells function. You will also discover a critical topic in genetic engineering - using enzymes to cause chemical reactions.

        The Smell-it Kit enables you 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 sweet banana scent.

        The Blue-it Kit also includes the engineering of bacteria to produce an enzyme. With the Blue-it Kit, however, you 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 essential part of chemical reactions is bonding, and so a light introduction to atoms, orbitals, and the four types of bonds are discussed. Ultimately you leave with an understanding of not only what proteins are but how they function.

        • (1) Heat-it Kit - Individual and (1) Induce-it Kit - Individual (Chapter 7)
        With a good understanding of transcription (Chapter 4) and translation (Chapter 5) and the basic bonding used in cells (Chapter 6), you 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 can activate the expression of a colored protein. The Fundamentals section describes how the temperature-sensitive promoter relates to the cells' basic stress response and “hi-jacks” that response.

        The Induce-it Kit explores the world of using chemicals to manipulate gene expression. In this instance, you 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, you will add the chemical to spots on the Petri dish, and over a few hours, begin to see the expression of the color protein.
        Instructions: a manual for each kit, with easy-to-understand vocabulary and step-by-step procedures. Available online. See the Resources tab for links.

        Optional, choose from the add-on (make sure to read the What else tab before making your choice):

        • Optional (1) Microcentrifuge
        As you will have read in Chapter 2 of Zero to Genetic Engineering, to do certain advanced science experiments, an additional piece of lab equipment is required, the microcentrifuge. It is an essential piece of equipment that is used in every life science research laboratory in the world. A microcentrifuge is a small toaster-sized device in which you can put tubes to spin them at very high speeds. This process allows you to separate the different components in your tubes and an important part of doing science. The microcentrifuge offered as an optional add-on in 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 that you can set a time, start the centrifuge, and have it automatically stop spinning.

        If you already have a microcentrifuge that spins at 13,000 x g or more, select "0" microcentrifuges from the dropdown.

        What else is needed?

        For these experiments, you will need the DNA Playground and the Amino Labs' microcentrifuge — or your own laboratory equipment which includes a 37°C incubator, hot water bath, thermometer, crushed ice & ice bucket, and a microcentrifuge that spins at least 13,000 x g. 1 Amino Labs Microcentrifuge is sufficient for a full class.

        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. The Plate Extract-it Kit, Smell-it Kit, Induce-it Kit, and Blue-it Kit each come with a small bag that must be put in the Freezer as soon as possible. Do not put the full kits in the freezer, only the small bags with the "Freeze/Freezer" stickers.

        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! Store them as required in the refrigerator/freezer as soon as you can. 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