Biotechnology, Chemical & Process Technologies


  • Genetic Engineering and Working with DNA

    The technique illustrated in this animation produced by WGBH and Digizyme, Inc., shows how scientists use natural processes and technological innovations to insert genes into loops of DNA called plasmids. Plasmids can then be introduced into bacterial or other cells, which will proceed to replicate the inserted genes or induce the cells to produce such valuable proteins as human insulin and growth hormone. This resource is part of the Biotechnology collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Electrophoresis and Gel Analysis

    Scientists use a variety of tools to analyze DNA. As this animation produced by WGBH and Digizyme, Inc. shows, gel electrophoresis enables them to determine the size of DNA molecules. Using this technique, together with other tools such as PCR reactions and restriction digestion, scientists can compare the molecular variations of two or more samples to determine such things as the identity of the DNA's source or the presence or absence of a particular gene or DNA fragment. This resource is part of the Biotechnology collection.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • DNA Separation Lab in the Classroom and in Real-World Research

    In this video produced by WGBH, high school and middle school students participating in the Amgen Biotech Experience make use of research equipment and techniques identical to those used in academia and industry to separate DNA. Data generated from this kind of experiment can help researchers analyze DNA and the genetic make-up of humans in an effort to understand how and why diseases develop that affect millions of people. This kind of research can also lead to the development of drugs for disease treatment and/or vaccines for disease prevention.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Protein Purification Lab in the Classroom and in Real-World Research

    In this video produced by WGBH, high school and middle school students participating in the Amgen Biotech Experience use real-world research equipment and techniques to separate a genetically engineered protein from other molecules in a cell. As an industry research scientist explains, this process—called protein purification—is commonly used in research and development of disease therapies. The video also explores some of the reasons people have for choosing a career in science, including the rewards of knowing their work is helping others.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Transforming Bacteria

    In this animation produced by WGBH and Digizyme, Inc., learn about bacterial transformation, the process by which DNA plasmids are introduced into a bacterial cell's genome. The animation presents the physical challenges of getting the plasmids through the cell's plasma membrane and the "heat shock" technique used to overcome them. It also shows how researchers test for successful transformations using experimental and negative control plates. This resource is part of the Biotechnology collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Structure of DNA

    In this animation adapted from Garland Science Publishing, a detailed look at DNA reveals the structural features that make up the famed double-helix molecule. The animation shows how the ladder-shaped DNA is constructed from chemical building blocks, including phosphates, sugars, and bases, held together by different kinds of chemical bonds. The narration further explains how the overall structure determines the charge and stability of the molecule, and how structure predicts key cellular functions of replication and transcription.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Protein Purification

    In this animation produced by WGBH and Digizyme, Inc., we learn how protein purification separates and isolates a protein of interest from other contents of transformed bacterial cells that have undergone lysis. The animation explains the steps involved in a technique called hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC), which ultimately yields a solution that is highly enriched with the protein of interest.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Growing Bacterial Cultures

    In this animation produced by WGBH and Digizyme, Inc., learn how researchers expand a population of transformed bacterial cells using solid and liquid culture media. The animation explains the role of ampicillin (an antibiotic) and arabinose (a sugar), which are used for selection in the growth media. It also demonstrates how the transformed bacteria are separated from nontransformed bacteria.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Recombinant DNA Lab in the Classroom and in Real-World Research

    In this video produced by WGBH, high school and middle school students participating in the Amgen Biotech Experience make use of real-world research equipment and techniques to insert a recombinant DNA molecule into a bacterial cell. By using precision instruments and techniques, scientists can insert foreign genes into bacteria. Understanding how proteins behave inside cells can lead to a better understanding of human diseases such as Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Working with Small Volumes

    Pipetting very small volumes of liquid requires both accuracy and precision. As this video from BenchFly.com demonstrates, one technique for dispensing particularly small volumes is to deposit the liquid directly on the inside wall of the receptacle.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Process Technology Student: Chemical & Refinery Process Technician

    Learn about process technology and the career of a process technician, also known as a process operator in this video adapted from Pathways to Technology. Process technology is what turns chemicals into products, from oil and gas to cosmetics and rubber soles for shoes. The process technician keeps the machines that process chemicals running smoothly. Jason Canales is studying to become a process technician. He explains what brought him to this field and why he wants to work at a refinery or a chemical plant after he graduates. Jason visits a factory to better understand how his classwork can be applied in the real world.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Process Technology Student: Oil Refinery Process Technician

    Observe how Sandra Garcia is studying to be a process technician, and learn about the field of process technology in this video adapted from Pathways to Technology. Sandra explains how her love of science brought her to community college after years away from school and how she's looking forward to a career in process technology. Also learn about the mysterious refractometer and how it can keep things running smoothly in a refinery.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Process Technology: Process Maintenance Engineer

    In this video adapted from Pathways to Technology, you’ll meet Tyrone Walker, who keeps the enormous machines at a Tupperware factory running 24/7/365. Tyrone is a process maintenance engineer. This means he inspects all the parts of a machine's electronics system looking for problems, from the tiniest components to the machine as a whole. Tyrone's community college degree in electronic engineering is key to doing this job, which he loves.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Biotechnology: Production Support Associate

    In this video excerpt from Pathways to Technology, meet Suzanne Pooler, a biotechnology production support associate, whose work contributes to cancer treatment. As a production support associate, Suzanne supports scientists' research by keeping cancer cells alive in test tubes. Without the right environment and nourishment, the cells would die and the research would have to start over. Suzanne discusses why she left her old job as an administrative assistant to attend community college and study science. She also explains why she loves her new job working in the field of biotechnology.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Biotechnology: Upstream Processing Associate

    In this video excerpted from Pathways to Technology, you’ll learn about the role biotechnology plays in the fight against cancer. Roya Dirin is an upstream processing associate who works with cells, looking for proteins that can help treat cancer. Her first career was as a midwife, but she decided to switch fields because she wanted to help cure diseases. Roya explains how her community college biotechnology degree is just the first step in her new career.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Process Technology: Training & Careers

    In this video excerpted from Pathways to Technology, learn about process technology and career opportunities in this field. Process refers to the steps that chemicals go through to become products, like gasoline or medicine. Process technology is used in just about every manufacturing industry, from pharmaceuticals to automobiles to cosmetics. A process technician keeps the machines that process chemicals running smoothly.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Biotechnology: Training & Careers

    In this video excerpted from Pathways to Technology, you’ll learn about biotechnology: the science of using living organisms to create new products, from drugs to fuels. Genetic engineering is a booming field in biotechnology, as scientists learn how to engineer living organisms to produce useful proteins. The need for people with biotechnology skills is always growing, and there is a wide range of possible careers available within the field.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Transforming Competent Cells

    This video produced by WGBH demonstrates step-by-step instructions for performing a bacterial transformation by splitting and mixing competent cells, and then adding a ligated plasmid.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Using an Electrophoresis Box

    A lab technician demonstrates how to prepare an agarose gel for electrophoresis in this video produced by WGBH. She also provides tips on correctly filling the electrophoresis tank.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Eluting Red Fluorescent Protein From the Column

    Learn how to elute red fluorescent protein by applying an elution buffer in this video produced by WGBH. After the red fluorescent protein has been bound in the chromatography column, a lab technician applies an elution buffer, and then allows the buffer to drain. Once the solution has been drained and the red fluorescent protein begins to drip out, the protein is collected.

    Grades: 9-12

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