This Web site provides online support for alumni of the Summer Teachers’ Workshop at Amherst College and other interested biology educators. The workshop ran for eight years between 2005 and 2012, and it was a two-week, residential workshop that provided high school science teachers from the Northeast with an opportunity to gain new insights into biological explorations in the modern-day, genomics era. Teachers obtained hands-on experience with lab exercises in DNA science or classical genetics, which were directly transferable to science classes at their home institutions. Participants also had the opportunity to gather data and present the results of a group research project that utilized the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequence analysis. More information about these activites follows below.

The Workshop Lab Curriculum page includes links to workshop laboratory exercises developed at Amherst College and elsewhere, which are freely available to science educators at other institutions. Likewise, the Links to Other Web Sites of Interest page has dozens of links to other biology Web sites and/or curricular activities.


The workshop laboratory exercises focused on DNA science, and included the following:

  • Experiments in classical genetics using yeast and Wisconsin Fast Plants™ as model organisms
  • Forensic DNA fingerprinting by restriction endonuclease digestion and agarose gel electrophoresis
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of human genetic polymorphisms
  • Bacterial transformation with the gene that encodes green fluorescent protein
  • DNA microarray analysis of cancer genes

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Photograph taken by Kronstad Lab, University of British Columbia

Computational Biology

Participants received instruction in 3-D modeling of protein structure, DNA sequencing, database searches and general approaches in bioinformatics.


Group Research Project

Teachers worked in groups to complete a short research project that utilized PCR and DNA sequencing analyses. Research topics included “Bacteria in the Environment,” “Identification of Human Polymorphisms in a Bitter Taste Receptor Gene,” “Genetic Polymorphisms Associated with Lactase Persistence in Humans” and “Variations in the Human Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone Receptor Gene.”


Summer 2009 participants working on their group research projects

2012 workshop participants and staff