Micropipette Challenge

Micropipette Challenge is an activity developed to introduce students to micropipettes, a commonly-used laboratory tool.

A micropipette is a very fine pipette tool for measuring, transferring, or injecting very small quantities of liquid. This tool has revolutionized the handling of small liquid volumes and is used across all fields of science, including, chemistry, biology, forensic science, pharmaceutics, etc. Micropipettes use a scale of measurement that is based on the metric system. The metric system is a system of measurement based on the powers of 10 and is also synonymous with the System of International Units, which is the most widely used system of measurement.

The Micropipette Challenge is a perfect introductory activity, allowing students to gain experience with the tools and techniques used in other MdBio Foundation labs. In this lab, students work with small amounts of liquid to create a visible spectrum. Students will also learn how to carefully read and follow a scientific protocol, as well as gain experience working with units in the metric system.

 

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the Micropipette Challenge Lab, students will be able to:

  • Understand how to properly use a micropipette
  • Read and follow a laboratory protocol
  • Unit conversion
  • Unit conversion from microliters to milliliters

 

Background Information

For more information, follow these links:

Pre-Laboratory Engagement

Students should have a general understanding of the metric system and the common metric units used for volumes. Use this worksheet as a review for the metric system and metric conversions: Micropipette Challenge Pre-Lab Activity

Pre-lab Questions

Students should be able to answer these questions before beginning the Micropipette Challenge

  • What is the metric system?
  • What is the SI system of measurement?
  • What countries use the metric system? What system of measurement does the United States use?
  • What is a unit conversion? What is a conversion factor?
  • How do you convert from milliliters to liters?
  • Why do you think it is important that scientists use units in their work?

 

Laboratory Activity

Roy, Gee, and Biv were asked by their teacher to create a spectrum, but they have no idea what to do and need your help! Using red, blue, and yellow solutions, you will make a visible spectrum, but in order to correctly do this, you will need to use a micropipette. Employing your knowledge of the metric system and unit conversions, you will learn how to operate a micropipette and measure small quantities of liquids to create your spectrum.

 

Post-Laboratory Extension

What professions use micropipettes? Check them out!

Biochemists and Biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, heredity, and disease. Learn more: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biochemists-and-biophysicists.htm

Biomedical Engineers combine engineering principles with medical sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare. Learn more: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm

Chemists/Material Scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and analyze the ways in which the substances interact with one another. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods. Learn more: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/chemists-and-materials-scientists.htm

Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy. Learn more: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm

Medical Scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings. Learn more: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm

Biological Technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments. Learn more: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biological-technicians.htm

Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. They try to understand how these organisms live, grow, and interact with their environments. Learn more: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/microbiologists.htm

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems. They study the physical characteristics of animals, animal behaviors, and the impacts humans have on wildlife and natural habitats. Learn more: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm

Specifications

  • Skill Level: Basic
  • Focus: Laboratory tools, Laboratory skills, Metric system, Following a protocol
  • Time: 45 minutes

TEKS Alignment

BIOL.1A

BIOL.2A

BIOL.2F

BIOL.2H

BIOL.6A

BIOL.6B

BIOL.6H

BIOTECH130.403.10.D

Key Words

electromagnetic spectrum, visible spectrum, micropipette, accuracy, precision, volume, microliters, milliliters, metric system, conversion factor, dimensional analysis

Additional Resources

NIST: The United States and the Metric System
A capsule history of the relationship between the U.S. and the metric system as told by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This link also includes a metric conversion card and a recipe for “metric” chocolate chip cookies!

SI Measurement System

A description of the seven base units of the metric system and the prefixes used in the metric system.

Fun with Dimensional Analysis

A short web page with various examples of dimensional analysis calculations .

 

Quickgrabs

How to Use a Micropipette

In case you need a refresher after your Learning Undefeated experience or want to get a head start before your visit, check out this video on how to use a micropipette.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

A short clip on the electromagnetic spectrum from PBS.