Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero™ Book

US$29.00 Regular price US$41.00
About the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero™ Book

Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero:
The beginner's guide to programming bacteria at home, school, & in the makerspace

**See our blog article with in-depth details about the  Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero guide book and learning journey**

The world's first beginner's guide to genetic engineering is here! With a combination of real-world, STEM hands-on activities and fundamental concepts, this book has many levels of depth so you can choose how you want to learn. Are you a hands-on or visual learner? Each chapter starts with one (or more) hands-on exercise to get you familiar with the scientific concepts in the chapter. The second half is the "Fundamentals" section, which goes in-deep into the heart of the matter with examples, analogies, colored illustrations, diagrams, all the while linking back to the hands-on exercises, giving you that solid, practical knowledge you can use.

Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero beginner's guide book makes use of Amino Labs' ecosystem of biotechnology experiments so that you can do real scientific exercises at home, in the classroom, or a makerspace. Most importantly, you do not need any prior knowledge of genetic engineering or biology to get started. This fun and engaging hands-on approach to learning genetic engineering is not to disappoint!  

If you are not ready to complete the hands-on exercises but want to familiarize yourself, your students, or kids with the fundamental concepts of biotechnology, no problem! Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero is written with many examples and analogies to help explain concepts and includes more than 130 color illustrations and breakout discussions. There are even recommended web searches and videos to guide you on an interactive learning journey. Unlike other textbook options that offer only information, Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero follows a narrative to make the learning journey captivating. 

Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero is the most cutting-edge and accessible technical book about genetic engineering and biotechnology. 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 genetic biohacking lab, or want to see what a biotechnology career could be, and 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 of all ages. 

“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.

Need many books?

Yes, we offer discounts! To get a bulk discount (8 books or more), contact us at

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.


    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 learning journey map here

            What's included?

            This is a physical copy of the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero book. If you would prefer a digital copy, head over to our publisher website, Make:

            The book can be purchased through your Boreal, Wards' and VWR accounts. It is also available as print-on-demand at Amazon, which may have more affordable shipping if you are located outside of North America. Simply search for "Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero book" on your amazon site.

            If you would prefer to buy it locally, it can be found in these locations:

            • MIT Coop (Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA, USA)
            • BUGSS (101 N Haven St #105, Baltimore, MD, USA) Hours: Wed-Fri 4pm-9pm and Sat 10am-5pm. Email contact is
            • Sound Bio (1100 NE 47th St #103, Seattle, WA, USA)
            • Counter Culture Lab (Omni Oakland Commons, 4799 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA)

            If you would like to stock and sell Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Beginner's guidebook, contact the Amino Labs team at

            You might have seen different covers for Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero. This is because the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero book has gone through three revisions since its launch in 2018. From the Beta Version with the white and yellow cover to a 1st edition with the cover with an orange background to the newest edition with the Make: cover in blue!

            The majority of the content of the book has stayed the same through all three editions. Some grammar mistakes were fixed, a few illustrations and context paragraphs were added/updated and some ethics exercises were added between the beta and 1st editions. From editions 1 to 2, the only change was the cover to celebrate joining the Make: book family.

            Storage & Shipping

            Shipping Times

            Lab equipment and accessories 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! ☺︎ 


            No special storage is needed!

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

            How to use the book

            The Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero book can be used at home, in the classroom, and the makerspace. It can be used on its own to learn theory or alongside hands-on kits. A significant benefit of the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero learning journey is that you can do hands-on exercises and gain real-world skills. See the full learning journey under the What will you learn? tab

            The book explains how to get set up and what equipment and supplies you'll need for the hands-on exercises, so you don't have to worry about that now! But if you want to have all the kits and equipment you need to complete the activities right away, check out the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Home Pack ch. 1 to 4 & ch. 5-7, or the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero Classroom Pack ch. 1 to 4 & ch. 5-7.

            Have a look at our blog post linked in the Resource section below for more in-depth information on using this book, its different sections, and the learning approaches.

            “This book is the perfect journey to learning the basics of engineering bacteria. From covering DNA to extracting proteins that you’ve engineered the bacteria to create and even control genetic circuits. These are the topics you need to know before you start innovating on your iGEM project”. Kristi Turton, undergraduate student at the University of Lethbridge in Canada and advisor to the Lethbridge High School iGEM team.