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

US$496.00 Regular price US$512.00
DNA Playground Large
Add More Books
Add the Class Safety Set
About the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero™: 1 - 4 (Classroom Pack)

Make biology/science class fun, engaging, and relevant to 21st-century careers! This kit pack includes everything a teacher needs to bring STEM biology exercises into their middle school or high school classroom, get their students excited about biology, and deeply explore topics in biology such as DNA, evolution, genes, genomes, cell structure, macromolecules, organic elements, bonding, how cells operate, transcription, and more.

This kit pack includes books, equipment, and materials for a teacher with no prior life science lab experience to set up a lab space, practice the exercises, view the book content, and then manage a group of students that does the exercises. If you are a teacher with prior lab experience and already have a lab in your school, you'll see that the equipment in this kit is optional. However, we are confident that with the DNA Playground minilab, your students will be more engaged and more successful than with traditional lab equipment. The book and hands-on exercises include:

  • DNA, evolution, and genes and doing a DNA extraction with a DNA Extraction Kit (Chapter 1)
  • Cells and macromolecules, streaking cells, making BioArt, and incubating cells with a Canvas Kit (Chapter 3)
  • Bacterial transformations, DNA plasmids, genes, transcription, and engineering cells to produce various color pigments by doing a transformation experiment with an Engineer-it Kit (Chapter 4)

The book content and kit exercises align with many different core learning objectives and are used in both middle school and high school settings. Group Kits come with eight individually packaged kits that can be easily handed out to individual students or lab groups.

A unique feature of Amino Labs products is that they are designed for students to complete the entire exercise. This means that teachers have only a few minutes of preparation time before class starts rather than one or more days of preparation before class. This increases planning flexibility and reduces the time burden on the teacher. This also results in the students learning the entire hands-on experience and removes the "black-boxing" that occurs with other educational kits. And since these kits do not need pipettes, students and teachers can jump right into the exercise.

To maximize fun and success, we recommend you opt for one or more DNA Playground Large. Each DNA Playground Large can cater to up to four groups of students. Depending on your desired student group sizes, you'll typically use between one and eight DNA Playground Large. The DNA Playground also reduces set up and clean up time by up to an hour and results in much less mess.

Lastly, because DNA Playgrounds are small and contained units, we've learned that many teachers also send DNA Playground units home with students to complete extra activities at home - exciting!

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?

(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. 

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, 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

Class Sizing
How many students does this pack cater to?


Experiment kits:

These group-sized experiment kits have eight individually sized packages that allow for eight experiments to be completed. The number of students, therefore, depends on how many students you group together and how many are in your class.

For example, with 1 group kit: 

# of students per team Total number of students able to do the experiment with 1 group kit
1 student/group 8 students 
students/group 16 students
3 students/group 24 students
4 students/group 32 students


DNA Playground Large:

Each DNA Playground lets up to four teams of students complete an experiment at the same time. The size of the class and the quantity of teams you have working will again determine how many DNA Playground Large you need.

For example, if you have a 24 student class where students are in teams of three, you will have 8 student teams. Since the DNA Playground large can accommodate up to 4 teams of students, you will need 2 DNA Playground Large.


You can use this formula to calculate your needs:

_____ (number of students per class) / _____ (students per team) / 4 =  # of DNA Playgrounds Large

Using the example above, it translates as 24/3/4= 2 DNA Playgrounds Large



Contact us if you have any questions, we will be happy to help!