Explore Microscopic Worlds and Much More
The Biotechnology Learning Lab focuses on discovering the microscopic worlds inside all living things and sparking curiosity about how life's processes can help us answer questions and solve problems. You'll get to use tools of biotechnology and experience hands-on encounters with real microorganisms.
Come see a working set of DIY bioreactors, where we have different species and colors of algae. Bioreactors are containers that scientists and engineers use to provide just the right conditions for microbes to live and to produce substances like fuels and medicines.
Biotech Ballot Box
From glow-in-the dark cats, to disease-resistant crops, to vegan leather, biotechnology has unleashed a plethora of interesting innovations. Which one is your favorite? Come cast your vote!
Cells in Yogurt
Have you ever eaten living microbes? Come look at yogurt under a microscope and see for yourself!
Interact with a biomaterial (kombucha scoby) created by yeast and bacteria. This material is very slimy when first created but becomes a naturally vegan leather when dried. Come see the objects that have been created using this biomaterial and learn how scientists are designing new microbes to produce even better vegan leather materials.
Come see invisible microbes create light before your eyes. These bioluminescent dinoflagellates use chemical processes inside their cells to create light in response to physical movements that you yourself will cause. Microbes are a key tool in biotechnology, and creating light is just the beginning of what they can do.
Life Up Close
In this area, younger scientists use powerful magnifying lenses to investigate things up close. They will look for shapes that are small in size but have big functions. Biotechnology is the use of microscopic biological shapes like proteins and DNA to solve problems, so the young learners’ work in this area is parallel to the other experiences in the lab.
Use a powerful and easy-to-use microscope to investigate things up close, like plant parts, animal fur, feathers, and even your own skin. Do different things look the same up close? Do you think any of the small shapes you see might have a function?
Microbe Time-Lapse Videos
See videos of microbes growing, as they actively decompose food and produce brand new substances. These processes that normally occur over hours and days are condensed into just a few seconds.
Size of Life
Explore the tiny objects inside our cells and bodies. How does a red blood cell compare to DNA? What about bacteria and viruses? Use a digital tool to zoom through the many orders of magnitude that separate our bodies from the microscopic worlds inside.
Smell the Biology
Get first-hand experience with the differing smells that natural and scientifically engineered yeast can produce. What causes the smells? How different can they be? This will spark discussions about how scientists use this ability of microbes to produce various substances to solve real-world problems.
Take a "Cellfie"
See your own cheek cells, using a high-powered microscope. Put a sample of your cheek cells on a microscope slide and get help from a staff member as you zoom in to see them. All living things are made of cells, and you will get to take home a photo of yours!
Moving very tiny volumes of liquids is a huge job for biotechnology scientists. Come get real practice learning how to use a special tool called a pipette to move different liquid colors and to make brand new color combinations.
Come use an actual scientific centrifuge to separate simulated DNA from cell parts. Then use what you’ve learned to design and test your own centrifuge!
There's a new technology, called bioprinting, with the potential to enable scientists to 3D print human tissues and organs. Come learn about this technology and then use bio-ink to print simulated blood vessels.
Come mix pigments and binders made by microbes and other organisms to design bio paints of different colors. Test and refine your recipes by using the paints to make your very own paintings.