Genetic Engineering Hero Chapters 1-4: Classroom Pack Content

(8) Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero books 

Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero: The Beginner's Guide to Programming Bacteria at Home, School & in the Makerspace is a 186-page book with over 130 color illustrations that take readers through a journey of biotechnology exploration through engaging hands-on activities.

Use the book as an enriched substitute for the instruction manuals. The book includes “Going Deeper” and “Pro-tip” sections throughout the exercises, which give the reader more context about the hands-on activity. The Fundamentals sections cover essential concepts that relate to and are “anchored by” the hands-on exercise. Each chapter also concludes with questions that the students can answer to demonstrate their understanding of the subjects explored in the chapter.

Classes can have one book per student group or one book per student so they can take the book home as a study resource. If you have a specific number of books needed, contact us for custom pricing.


(1) DNA Extraction Kit - Group - (Chapter 1)

Doing a hands-on experiment where you actually get to see real DNA emerge from a strawberry is surprising and delightful. This hands-on exercise is a great anchor for learning fundamentals about DNA, which are included in the second half of Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Chapter 1. The fundamental concepts in Chapter 1 include evolution, the structure of DNA, and chemical elements that are the building blocks of living things. The vocabulary often used to describe DNA (genes, genome, chromosomes, etc.), and the use of DNA in the industry is also covered.

A Group DNA Extraction Kit includes 8x individually packed bags of the components needed for the experiment. The only items that need to be acquired separately are eight drinking cups, eight strawberries, and a bottle of 70-99% rubbing alcohol. This can be found at a local pharmacy, grocery store, or already in your home/school. It is recommended that groups of 1-4 students use an individually packaged kit.


(1) Group Canvas Kit - Group - (Chapter 3)

Watching bacteria cells grow and change color is an ah-ha moment that leaves a lasting impression with students. What do bacteria cells look like? What do bacteria eat and grow on? Students learn how to make LB agar Petri dishes and learn how to streak cells, a technique that is very important in research labs around the world.

Further, students also get to create BioArt by “painting” with the bacteria on Petri dishes and watch the living canvases emerge by incubating them. BioArt is an emerging field of art being researched and explored in the top art and design universities, including the Royal College of Art in London, Parson’s School of Design in New York.

The Fundamentals section of Chapter 3 covers the structure of a bacterium cell and takes the students through a tour of a bacterium cell. The four macromolecules of living organisms are discussed. The idea that cells are like micro-factories and are made of “molecular mash-ups” of the four macromolecules of living organisms emerges.

This group kit includes 8x individually packaged kits that can be handed out to students. A bag with shared materials is held by the teacher for all students to share during the exercises. It is recommended that groups of 1-4 students use an individually packaged kit. There are three different pre-engineered color bacteria used for streaking and BioArt.


(1) Group Engineer-it Kit - Group - (Chapter 4)

What is genetic engineering? How does it actually work? With the Engineer-it kit, the students will make their own LB agar Petri dishes, streak “blank cells” and then engineer the cells with a DNA program! This DNA program is called a plasmid and will make it so the cells will visibly change colors because the DNA plasmid 'tells' the cells to express a color-producing gene. This is called a transformation experiment and is a very important technique in the world of life science research. It is likened to the “Hello World!” of computer programming.

The Fundamentals of Chapter 4 covers how the cells read DNA, and the concept of a gene becomes tangible and solidifies. Students learn the “basic operating environment of a cell” and learn that cells cannot think, but instead, it is chemistry that dictates how the cells operate. Transcription is the primary topic of Chapter 4, and the students learn how cells "know" to start reading DNA (start transcription), do transcription, and stop transcription.

If you want to cover the translation of RNA into proteins, this is the topic of Chapter 5, which also has a fun and engaging hands-on exercise.

This group kit includes 8x individually packaged kits that can be handed out to students. A bag with shared materials is held by the teacher for students to share during the exercises. It is recommended that groups of 1-4 students use an individually packaged kit.


Lesson guides 

With NGSS and Alberta curriculum alignment, these lesson guides developed by (Alberta Science Foundation) make it easy for educators to implement hands-on student activities in the classroom based on the genetic engineering concepts presented in Amino Labs kits and their Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Guide bookEach lesson guide includes a variety of student activities such as hands-on experiments, virtual simulators, individual and group assignments, powerpoint presentations, worksheets, and assessments with accompanying teacher keys. 


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. Available online. See the Resources tab for links.


Optional, choose from the add-on: 

DNA Playground Large

DNA Playground is a new kind of lab equipment that is specially designed for those just learning about biotechnology, molecular biology, and genetic engineering (a.k.a synthetic biology). The DNA Playground enables fun and engaging genetic engineering experiments and includes a “cold station”, which, eliminates the need to source ice and ice buckets; a hot station, which, removes the need for a hot water bath and a thermometer; and a petri dish incubator that can hold up to eight Petri dishes (6 cm) for incubating your cells.

The 3-in-1 nature of the DNA Playground highly simplifies getting the equipment for doing these fun and engaging exercises. It also reduces the cost compared to buying traditional lab equipment and lowers the set-up and clean-up time. Moreover, these units take only seconds to turn off, unplug, and store away in a cupboard for next time - this means you do not need a dedicated lab space to set up and maintain the equipment.

If you already have a petri dish incubator, hot water bath, thermometers, ice buckets, and crushed ice, then you will not need a DNA Playground Large. If you do not have that equipment, choose the number of DNA Playground Large using the drop-down.

Each DNA Playground Large can host up to four groups of students doing the Canvas Kit or Engineer-it Kit exercises. Typically a classroom will require between 2 and 4 DNA Playground Large, depending on the student group sizes.


(1) Class Safety Set 

A safety set includes 100 disposable plastic aprons that can be used as lab coats if you do not have lab coats for your students. Two boxes (100) of medium nitrile gloves are included. Because the chance of spills happening is low, the plastic aprons can be reused.