Biotech Basics: Accuracy and Precision in Measurements (and a #SciArt Project!)

 

What is the difference between accuracy and precision?

Accuracy describes how close a measurement is to the true value of a given quantity.  Precision describes the reproducibility of the measurement. Accordingly, measurements can be categorized as follows: NEWS_9.28.15_Targets_Fig1.jpg

  1. Neither accurate nor precise – measurements do not match accepted value, nor are they reproducible.
  2. Accurate but not precise – the average of the measurements matches the accepted value, but their values vary greatly. 
  3. Precise but not accurate – the value of the measurements match one another, but the average deviates from accepted value.  
  4. Both accurate and precise – the measurements agree with one another and with the accepted value.

Why are accuracy and precision important for biotechnology?

Accuracy and precision of measurements ensure that your experiments are both successful and reproducible.  For example, small differences in primer or template concentration can make a big difference in the results of PCR experiments.  To address this concern, scientists use carefully calibrated micropipets to measure the volume of each component.  

How do I use a micropipet?

With a little practice, using a micropipet is very easy.  If you are not familiar with using micropipets, start by downloading our fully illustrated Quick Guide.  This resource will not only teach you how to use a micropipet, it will also help you choose the right one for your experiment.  Next, grab your micropipet and head to our YouTube page to watch our video tutorial on pipetting.

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At this point, you should be comfortable with the principles of micropipetting.  Now, before performing the experiment, you’ll want to practice. We recommend starting with Kit S-44, Micropipetting Basics.  This exercise will help you become comfortable using pipets to make mixtures from different starting materials.  Next, grab a package of DNA DuraGels™ to practice pipetting into a gel.  DuraGels™ are reusable polymer gel models that will allow you to experience gel loading before performing an electrophoresis experiment.  Using DuraGels™ eliminates the preparation time, expense, and waste of pouring actual agarose practice gels. Once you’re comfortable loading an agarose gel, you should be ready to perform the experiment!  

s-45pictureWe are launching a NEW kit this week which focuses on pipetting colorful dyes onto paper to create #SciArt!  

As learning how to properly pipet is crucial for the success of biotechnology experiments, we’re always creating fun and interactive new ways to incorporate pipetting practice into your classroom laboratory.  Today, we’re happy to share our NEW kit, Pipetting By Numbers: STEAM Pipetting Practice, in which your students master the fundamental biotechnology technique of micropipetting while creating a colorful, science-themed classroom poster.  For best results, students will need to be both accurate and precise in spotting the dye (more about accuracy and precision below).

Using the skills they developed coloring the poster, students can then create their own pipetting masterpiece!

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