Biotechnology, Chemical & Process Technologies

  • Animal Cloning 101

    In this interactive activity from the Dolan DNA Learning Center, learn about what clones are, the technique that makes cloning of organisms possible, and some animals that scientists have successfully cloned over the years. The activity explains why identical twins fit the definition of clones, details the different methods used to create the first cloned sheep and mice, and explains how cloned animals may one day be used to resolve human health issues.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Career Profile: Associate Scientist Andres Berrio

    Andres Berrio is an associate scientist with the biotechnology company, Biogen. In this video produced by WGBH, Andres talks about his career path, his background as an unmotivated student, the guidance counselor who helped turn his life around, his discovery that he liked learning, and what it takes to succeed in the biotechnology field.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Biotechnology Student Profile

    Meet Daphnee, a high school student with an interest in biotechnology in this video segment adapted from Pathways to Technology. Daphnee takes afterschool classes at a community college to learn more about this field. Daphnee invites us along on her job-shadowing experience at a biotechnology company, where she observes a biotechnician at work and asks questions that will help her decide if the career field may be right for her.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Careers In Biotechnology

    In this interactive activity produced by WGBH, learn about the vital role biotechnology professionals serve in health care, and explore the wide range of jobs available in the following career paths: research and development, manufacturing and production, quality control and assurance, and clinical research. Read job descriptions, education and experience requirements, and testimonials from people working in entry-level as well as senior-level positions.

    Grades: 8-12
  • DNA Extraction

    In this interactive activity adapted from the University of Nebraska's Plant and Soil Science eLibrary, learn how DNA is extracted from leaf tissue for molecular techniques, such as PCR. As the animated sequence shows, DNA extraction involves collecting cells, physically breaking them open to release DNA from the nuclei, separating the DNA from other cellular components, and precipitating DNA out of solution for final extraction. The process utilizes basic laboratory tools, such as microfuge tubes, pipettes, and a centrifuge. Other items used in purifying DNA include buffer solution, a solvent such as chloroform, and ethanol.
    Grades: 9-12
  • DNA Libraries

    In this interactive resource adapted from the Dolan DNA Learning Center, learn about DNA libraries, the tools scientists use to store and reproduce genetic information that they can later access for their research. The interactive resource features five different types of DNA libraries. Each gets its name from the type of molecule or organism used to host DNA segments of varying lengths.

    Grades: 9-12
  • DNA Sequencing

    In this interactive activity adapted from the Dolan DNA Learning Center, examine the techniques geneticists use to read a sequence of DNA fragments. Sequencing enables scientists to analyze DNA and ultimately piece together the genomes of living organisms. The activity features Fred Sanger's original sequencing method, developed in 1977, and an automated version of Sanger's method that uses computers to read and interpret data. This newer technique provides a faster and more reliable means of sequencing.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Career Profile: Research Assistant Sandra Bustamante

    Hear how a research assistant got her start in biotechnology, in this video produced by WGBH. Sandra fell in love with science during a free certificate program in Boston, Massachusetts, called CityLab. The video details not only Sandra's cutting-edge research work—using nanotechnology, rather than needles, to deliver vaccines—but also the qualities she has demonstrated that have helped her excel in her field.

    This video is available in English and Spanish with closed captions.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Career Profile: Quality Control Microbiologist

    This video produced by WGBH profiles Kim, a quality control microbiologist at the biopharmaceutical corporation Bristol-Myers Squibb. Her company makes a range of medicines to treat many diseases, and it's Kim's responsibility to make sure the products she works with are safe and effective before they reach patients. For example, she tests the purity of as many as 100 water samples each day because water is one of the main ingredients in drugs. Kim explains the importance of quality control in drug manufacturing, and how new biotechnology tools help her do her job.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction

    In this interactive activity adapted from the University of Nebraska's Library of Crop Technologies, learn the basic steps of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a technique used to produce short sections of DNA for analysis. In this technique, various components are combined in a microfuge tube and heated in a thermal cycler. The activity details the process, which results in thousands of identical copies of a DNA fragment. Note: The activity provides a simulation of the process. The characterizations of depicted components and their behaviors should not be taken literally.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Gene Cloning

    In this interactive activity adapted from the University of Nebraska's Library of Crop Technologies, learn how genes are cloned, or copied from one organism to another, using a multistep process that involves restriction enzymes and plasmids. The activity shows one bacterial cell "transforming" others with the addition of its DNA. The process naturally confers antibiotic resistance to the transformed bacteria, which in turn helps scientists isolate transformed bacteria from those that have not been transformed.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Biomanufacturing Supervisor

    This video adapted from Connecticut's College of Technology/Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing features Jeff Hotaling, biomanufacturing supervisor for a leading medical device maker. Jeff talks about the challenges and opportunities he faces in his factory workplace, which assembles retractable safety syringes. He explains that all assembly equipment is software driven, and that machine operators need to know how to run the program. He also details his typical day, which involves leading group meetings, discussing product quality and equipment issues, preparing production reports, and managing both payroll and inventory.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Process Technology

    Learn about the field of process technology and what it takes to work in the field from the perspectives of a student, a community college professor, and an industry specialist in this video adapted from ATETV. A professor at a process technology program explains what process technology is, how the program works with industry to develop a curriculum based on what industry wants, and how the program has an employment rate of over 90 percent. An industry representative describes what he looks for when hiring a student. Meet a single mother who talks about her own experience attending the process technology program while holding down a job.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Decoding Synthetic Biology | QUEST

    In this video segment from KQED's QUEST series, learn how synthetic biologists design and fabricate genes from scratch and use them to build new functions into living cells. Follow researchers Drew Endy and Chris Voigt as they explain how this new technology improves upon traditional genetic-engineering tools.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Green Technology: Sustaining the Earth

    In this interactive activity produced for Teachers' Domain, explore five different areas of research and innovation in green technology: renewable energy and conservation; green building; transportation; manufacturing; and pollution and waste management. Within the categories, investigate examples of innovations in solar power, biofuels, energy efficiency, materials efficiency, planes and trains, automobiles, electronic paper, consumer electronics, carbon capture and storage, and bioremediation.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving in Advanced Manufacturing

    In this media-rich lesson plan, students learn how critical thinking and problem solving are used in advanced manufacturing fields, then apply what they’ve learned in activities that are based on real-world scenarios.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Planning Your Future Career in Advanced Technology

    In this media-rich, self-paced lesson, students explore the range of industries that produce and rely on advanced technology and learn how their skills and interests may align with career opportunities in this cutting-edge sector. The lesson contains videos that feature professionals describing their work and educational experiences, and provides details on the different college-level programs that prepare tomorrow’s workers for the industries’ challenging and well-paying jobs. The lesson concludes with activities that students can complete to help them more clearly define their goals and plan pathways to rewarding careers.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Making an Agarose Gel

    Tiny differences in DNA sequences can have profound effects on who we become and how our lives and health progress. Techniques like gel electrophoresis make it possible to visualize these variations. As this video adapted from the University of Leicester emphasizes, carefully following established procedures when creating the gel and setting up the electrophoresis apparatus is necessary to achieve accurate results.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Running an Agarose Gel

    Gel electrophoresis is a powerful technique used to quickly analyze samples for variations in the DNA molecules they contain. While not nearly as precise as decoding an entire genome, gel electrophoresis uses molecular variability to match biological samples to their sources with a great deal of accuracy. However, as this video from the University of Leicester demonstrates, the technique is only as good as the procedures used to conduct the analysis.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Using a Micropipette

    Measuring and dispensing small volumes of a variety of liquids is a critical part of many biology and chemistry laboratory procedures. The smaller the volumes, the more difficult this is, and the more important it is to do so accurately and precisely. Micropipettes are sophisticated instruments designed specifically to measure and dispense small volumes. This video, adapted from the University of Leicester, describes the basic function of a variety of micropipettes. It also demonstrates their proper use and the errors that can result if proper techniques and procedures aren’t followed. This resource is part of the Biotechnology collection.

    Grades: 9-13+