Ready-to-Go Biology Experiments for College Classes

For many college students, their survey course in biology is their last onramp for mastering scientific methods in their academic careers.

College biology students may have fuzzy memories of middle school and high school experiences of planting seeds in cups, looking at cells under a microscope, or maybe even extracting and analyzing DNA. They may retain the facts and vocabulary they learned in their pre-college studies, but they often do not have a functional grounding in the ways scientists view the world.

Modern Biology Inc. helps college biology instructors provide their students with the experiments they need to hone their ability to think like scientists. No Modern Biology experiment kit is just a demonstration Every experiment produced by Modern Biology requires students to formulate a hypothesis that their experiment will confirm or disconfirm based on structured observation and accurate recording of results.

Experiments from Modern Biology help college biology students mature the critical thinking skills that they will carry with them throughout their adult lives, both in their careers and in other contexts.

Here are seven great examples of Modern Biology’s go-to experiments that 80,000 teachers teach to over 500,000 students every year.

Hands-On Learning About DNA

It is easy to forget that even college students benefit from kinesthetic learning. Our Modern Biology experiment B1-1: Properties of DNA gives students the experience of precipitating strands of DNA from solution with alcohol and manipulating them with glass rods.

This experiment can seem a little elementary. But for students that are several years removed from science classes, it can remind them that the concepts in their textbooks relate to the physical world around them. This deceptively simple laboratory experience can allow your student to create succinct, clear, falsifiable hypotheses about the nature of DNA before the lab exercise. It’s creating those hypotheses that expand their understanding of DNA.

Introduction to Electrophoresis

Electrophoresis is a basic, visual tool for isolating, measuring, and characterizing DNA, RNA, and other large proteins. Your students who go into careers in healthcare will perfect some basic lab skills In Modern Biology’s Experiment O3: An Introduction to Electrophoresis, including using a pipette and making sure wells are filled equally, and double-checking the temperature of their reagents. For some of your students, this will be one of the first times they have to make adjustments in their technique to get meaningful and replicable results.

And for some of your students, this experiment will be an occasion to review the concepts of electrostatic attraction and repulsion.

Students will use the reagents and equipment supplied by Modern Biology to determine relative lengths of strands of DNA. They will work on their understanding of the technique to be able to articulate what it won’t reveal, and why.

Your students will learn how laboratory technique influences results. They may have to deal with bubbles in the agar gel that keep samples from moving toward the cathode. They may experience variations in results they can trace to perturbations in the pH of their reagents. They will gain experience in the invaluable skill of knowing when to run more tests by knowing what they are looking for from the first minute of the experiment.

Electrophoresis Can Also Become a Kinesthetic Learning Experience

Electrophoresis isn’t limited to determining the length of a strand of DNA. Your students can develop the technique needed to use electrophoresis to determine the molecular weight of a protein in Modern Biology’s EXP-201: Molecular Weight of a Protein. For this experiment, Modern Biology provides experimental proteins that are stained to allow your students to watch smaller proteins move faster and larger proteins move slower.

Your college biology class can move on to Modern Biology’s Exp-202  identifying lipovitellin, phosvitin, and vitellogenin, which are produced in the chicken liver through a series of steps rate-limited by estrogen.

The hen’s circulatory system delivers vitellogenin to the yolk of the egg, where it is broken down at different rates depending on whether the embryonic chick is male or female. Students will articulate a testable hypothesis about whether the egg carries a hen or a rooter they can test in this experiment. Then your students can test whether they produce vitellogenin. Of course, about 50% of them will.

Capstone Experiments for Life Science Survey Courses

Modern Biology also provides complete kits for capstone experiments for survey courses in biology. These experiments take your students beyond the mere retention of facts and vocabulary to demonstrating their skills in the scientific method and their ability to place science in a social context.

Modern Biology provides a complete kit for studying the genetics of sickle cell disease that students use to analyze their DNA. You can then lead the discussion of results to an understanding of the barriers to obtaining treatment for sickle cell disease and how DNA analysis feeds into public health planning.

Or maybe your students will prefer to build a bacterial computer to solve the pancake problem or genetically modifying a strain of E. coli so it glows in the dark.

There has never been a more exciting time teach college biology. And there’s never been a more challenging time to be a college biology instructor. Modern Biology has decades of experience helping tens of thousands of life science teaching professionals meet the challenges of their profession.

For forty years since Modern Biology Inc. was founded by Dr. John Anderson, we have followed the same fundamental pedagogical principles.

  • Every experiment manufactured by Modern Biology matches a clear and concise lesson, with notes to help teachers prepare for it. Teachers can also develop test questions from the lesson guide.
  • Every experiment kit made by Modern Biology supports scientific thinking. Students test their hypotheses. They never just watch demonstrations. They are never limited to facts and vocabulary.
  • Every Modern Biology helps students develop the manual dexterity and note-taking skills that they will carry to future study and their careers. Modern Biology is developed by working scientists for future working scientists.
  • Every Modern Biology kit includes all the reagents and test materials teachers need for their laboratory exercise. There is no need for ordering separate reagents, fussing about missing shipments, or checking out lab materials from the supply room. Modern Biology supplies the safe, non-toxic, reliable reagents and measurement materials you need for every laboratory exercise. And because every Modern Biology experiment is available at a fixed cost, it’s easier to budget your supply cost for each class for each school term.