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.
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
For more information, follow these links:
- Micropipettes: https://bit.ly/2NAaPti
- Electromagnetic Spectrum: https://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/light/Lesson-2/The-Electromagnetic-and-Visible-Spectra
- Metric System: https://www.mathsisfun.com/measure/metric-system.html
- Unit Conversions: https://www.mathsisfun.com/measure/unit-conversion-method.html
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
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?
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.
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
- Skill Level: Basic
- Focus: Laboratory tools, Laboratory skills, Metric system, Following a protocol
- Time: 45 minutes
electromagnetic spectrum, visible spectrum, micropipette, accuracy, precision, volume, microliters, milliliters, metric system, conversion factor, dimensional analysis
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!
A description of the seven base units of the metric system and the prefixes used in the metric system.
A short web page with various examples of dimensional analysis calculations .
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.
A short clip on the electromagnetic spectrum from PBS.