Hands-on labs to bring CRISPR to your classroom

Introduce your students to authentic CRISPR/Cas9

The introduction of CRISPR/Cas9 into the biotechnology toolkit has revolutionized the world of genetics. And in just 10 years since CRISPR’s introduction, miniPCR bio is leading the way in bringing CRISPR to the classroom in ways that are both innovative and accessible. 

miniPCR bio now offers two great options for hands-on labs that can bring authentic CRISPR/Cas9 gene targeting to your classroom! Wondering which lab is right for you?

  • Knockout! Knock out a gene in bacteria using CRISPR/Cas9 and observe a phenotypic change. In the Knockout! lab, students transform E. coli bacteria with a plasmid that contains both the Cas9 gene and a guide RNA to target the lacZ gene. Students will observe a phenotypic change through blue/white screening as the Cas9 enzyme knocks out the lacZ gene. In the process they will be able to observe one of the most common uses of CRISPR/Cas9—creating gene knockouts in live organisms.
  • Chopped! Focus on how the molecular components of CRISPR target specific DNA sequences with a simple protocol and readout. In the Chopped! lab, students use the CRISPR/Cas system in vitro (in a test tube) to cut a DNA sample and then analyze their resulting DNA fragments using gel electrophoresis. This lab provides a simple protocol that focuses on the molecular mechanisms of the Cas9 enzyme and guide RNAs (gRNAs). By focusing on how gRNAs help Cas9 target specific DNA sequences, your students will have a clear understanding of how scientists design CRISPR/Cas9 experiments.

Both the Knockout! and Chopped! labs engage students with a hands-on activity to explore how CRISPR/Cas can be used to target genes. And together, they provide an excellent, scaffolded approach to learning about CRISPR/Cas9. Start by using a paper model from our CRISPR resource library to understand how the Cas9 enzyme targets and cuts DNA sequences. Then, use Chopped! to get hands-on in understanding the interaction of Cas9, gRNAs, and DNA. Finally, use Knockout! to demonstrate the power of using genome editing in live organisms.

Comparing Knockout! and Chopped! Two great options for CRISPR /Ca9 in the classroom:

Knockout! A CRISPR/Cas Gene Targeting Lab Chopped! Using CRISPR/Cas9 to cut DNA
Lab objective Use CRISPR/Cas9 to disrupt a gene in bacteria and observe the resulting phenotypic change Demonstrate how gRNAs and Cas9 work together to target and cut DNA
Techniques
  • Bacterial transformation
  • Optional: PCR and gel electrophoresis
  • Gel electrophoresis
Level
  • Advanced high school
  • College
  • General high school
  • Advanced high school
  • College
Time to complete One 2-hour class period Two 45-minute class periods or one 90-minute class period

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