GFP work: learning new skills, building confidence

Feed the World recently provided Bio-Rad GFP kits to ten lucky teachers. Erin Molden is a Biotechnology Instructor at Miami Valley CTC. She shares about how she used the kit with her junior Biotech students:

In the fall semester my students spent a quarter learning about microbiology, DNA, and how to combine the two through bacterial transformation. They were successful in transforming bacteria with the pGLO plasmid resulting in glowing bacteria. In order to further understand the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology (DNA to RNA to protein), I wanted my students to see that the pGLO DNA plasmid causes the glowing because it results in the production of GFP protein.

Biotech often results in the production of a medicine, protein, or enzyme that can be utilized in another industrial process. We had discussed how these proteins can be isolated but I do not have the large-scale equipment to do this in my classroom. This kit allowed me to show my students how this isolation is done on a small scale. I love how this kit makes explaining HIC easy and straightforward for students. It is a challenging concept but my students did a great job. This kit was a great extension to the concepts we learned in the fall and it allowed my students to come full circle on their learning.

After using this kit we ran the proteins on a SDS-PAGE and stained with Coomassie blue so that they could see how well they isolated the protein. We had some technical difficulties with this experiment but they were able to see how scientists would evaluate and experiment from start to finish. We learned about how to troubleshoot when a technique doesn’t work as planned!

Many of my students are not as confident in the more advanced science concepts like column chromatography. They often feel like they won’t be able to complete the experiment. This Bio-Rad kit allowed my students to discover that column chromatography is not so scary and that they have learned the skills they need to understand what is happening in order to isolate the GFP protein. They were very proud of their accomplishment of isolating a sample of glowing protein!