Most items are readily available; any specialty items needed can be ordered from online vendors.
Average ($50 - $100)
If bacteria or cell lines are used as the source of material for purification, SRC approval may be necessary. Adult supervision is recommended.
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.
In order to study individual biochemical compounds like proteins, DNA, or RNA, biochemists need to know how to purify these components from a complex mixture. This is especially important for biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, which sell purified biochemicals as reagents or drugs to consumers. Do an experiment to purify DNA, RNA, or protein from a complex mixture (for purifying DNA, see the Science Buddies project Extracting Onion DNA). The source of the material can be a cell line, bacterial culture, plant extract, or yeast culture. Which purification strategies work best for your compound of interest? Can you use enzymes like protease, DNAse, or RNAse to test the product of your purification to see if it worked? Are there ways of altering the protocol to make it work better and increase the yield? For example, you could try changing detergent concentrations, salinity, or pH, or adding enzymes.
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If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Growing, aging, digesting—all of these are examples of chemical processes performed by living organisms. Biochemists study how these types of chemical actions happen in cells and tissues, and monitor what effects new substances, like food additives and medicines, have on living organisms.
What do the sequencing of the human genome, the annual production of millions of units of life-saving vaccines, and the creation of new drought-tolerant rice varieties have in common? They were all accomplished through the hard work of biological technicians. Scientists may come up with the overarching plans, but the day-to-day labor behind biotech advances is often the work of skilled biological technicians.
Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technician
Doctors need information to decide if a person is healthy or sick, if a baby's earache is bacterial or viral, or if the man next door needs medication to lower his cholesterol and prevent a heart attack. The information often comes in the form of results from lab tests. Medical and clinical laboratory technicians are the people who perform these routine medical laboratory tests, giving the doctors the information needed to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease.
As the world's population grows larger, it is important to improve the quality and yield of food crops and animal food sources. Agricultural technicians work in the forefront of this very important research area by helping scientists conduct novel experiments. If you would like to combine technology with the desire to see things grow, then read further to learn more about this exciting career.
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