Transforming bacteria

Sara Brewer teaches at Greenon Junior/Senior High School, and she attended last summer’s Feed the World 2-day workshop. She completed the biotechnology lesson from the workshop, “Transforming Bacteria” with her Advanced Biology classes.

I began with a lesson about all of the components we would be working with, including what was in the agar in each plate and the role it plays in bacterial growth, etc. I also discussed what was in the transformation solution and how it would play in aiding in transformation. We talked about the plasmid itself and the three genes that were on the plasmid and what would happen if they were expressed, and then covered the basics of transformation and creating recombinant DNA.

I asked the students to make predictions based on their newly-gained knowledge. They did a really nice job putting the pieces together and explaining why they thought the bacteria would either grow or glow in each dish after the experiment.

We prepped the day prior to the experiment by gathering some of the materials, getting into groups, discussing sterile techniques, and reviewing how important timing was as far as heat shock is concerned. The day of the lab, the students were very excited to be doing something this real, since we usually just talk about how these things work, not actually DO biotechnology!

The students took the lab very seriously, keeping each other on track, assigning roles, etc. Needless to say, when they came in the next day, they were excited to retrieve their dishes from the incubator to analyze them. All of the groups that performed the experiment the first day ended up with at least one colony that was transformed. One group did really well and had a whole plate full of transformed, glowing bacteria! They were pretty excited that they were successful. All of the groups that performed the experiment on day two were able to transform the bacteria and they all had platefuls of bacteria that were glowing! The students responded to the challenge and succeeded!!

I am thrilled to have participated in the workshop—I was introduced to a new lesson/lab that pushed me past my comfort zone, but showed me how I could easily do this lesson in the classroom. I am glad I had the opportunity to connect with amazing teachers. I feel confident that I can do more biotechnology lessons with my students. Since biotechnology is a growing field, I am proud to be able to provide my students with an opportunity to try their hand at it and possibly find a career path in it!

Join us for this year’s great workshop!