One of the many reasons why I love being part of our UC Davis First Year Seminar CUREs is that we do not require our students to have previous scientific experience. What this also means is that we need to spend a lot of class time covering basic (yet very important!) laboratory skills. Therefore, Week 2 of our course focused on how to pipette accurately.
With the help of Kaylah and Emily, Ashley modified a great in-class worksheet (designed by Marc Facciotti and Andrew Yao) for students to work through. Check it out! This worksheet is great for two reasons: 1) students learn to pipette solutions of different viscosities and 2) we simultaneously introduced students to the plate reader we will be using later in the course.
If you are considering using this protocol in your own CURE or for new students in the lab, I would like to note that the plate reader step of the protocol created quite a bottleneck. What worked really well for us is that our student assistants ran the plate reader on everyone’s plates while the class used the remaining time to discuss how they would analyze the plate reader output.
For homework, we asked our students to analyze their plate reader results as we discussed at the end of class, following these guidelines. Additionally, we asked them to diagram the methods section of this paper (also discussed in post about Week 1) in preparation for our Frontiers for Young Minds article. Here is an example of a student’s completed assignment for this.