Virtual Bacterial ID Lab October 19, 2011

Take six bacterial samples in this virtual lab from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Where you become familiar with the science and techniques used to ID bacteria types.

The Virtual Bacterial ID Lab was first released in 2000 as a browser-based interactive lab. If you don’t have an iPad you can still use all five of the virtual labs online. Visit the link listed at the end of this article. The purpose of the Bacterial Identification Lab is to familiarize you with the science and techniques used to identify different types of bacteria based on their DNA sequences.

 
In this virtual lab, students will
Prepare a sample from a patient and isolate whole bacterial DNA.
Make many copies of the desired piece of DNA.
Sequence the DNA.
Analyze the sequence and identify the bacteria.
 
The Virtual Bacterial Identification Lab interface is divided into two main areas, the interactive window on the left and the lab notebook on the right. There are five tabs on the right which include:
Intro
Samples
Notebook
Reference
Help
On the left side, there is an interactive window where you touch and move tools with the touch of your finger. Below that are the steps in the process. You won’t lose your place in the procedure because the step you are currently on is highlighted. This app doesn’t require an internet connection for steps 1-5 but does require it for step 6. There is an updated version out to run on iOS 5 fixing a bug in step 6.
 
The lab can be reset to clear out the samples taken from a previous visitor has completed the lab. Because this lab automatically saves where the user has left off, it would be hard to demonstrate this lab for multiple class periods or for multiple students to practice when sharing iPads in a classroom. This app is best used with students have a dedicated iPad, or have their own device. Since the labs are available online, I recommend using the app in class to introduce the virtual lab and the students can use the website to practice the lab online. Or, a teacher can use the app in multiple classes, going through the six step process in one class. Then, at least one bacteria type is identified within a class period and another one can be identified for the next period.
 
This virtual lab is one of five offered on the HHMI’s website along with other classroom resources. If you don’t have an iPad you can still use all five labs from a MAC or PC. Visit the link to also use the:
Transgenic Fly Virtual Lab
The Cardiology Lab
The Neurophysiology Lab
The Immunology Lab
And of course the Bacterial Identification Lab
 

The HHMI also offers ‘Click and Learn’ –an app to watch science videos and animations (with download capability) and ‘HHMI’ –a free science magazine