Six experiments that can be done (almost) anywhere

Looking to engage budding scientists but barred from the lab? Here are six Edvotek experiments that are high on science but low on equipment requirements.

Update (4/30/2020): Many of the experiments mentioned below are now available as MyLabs Custom Kits. These kits are for one student and have zero equipment/reagent requirements. Read more about them here.

(Lab-less experiment hack: Don’t let glassware slow you down! Large and small water glasses can be used in the place of 50 mL and 100 mL beakers to hold solutions. If you do need to measure out milliliters you can convert the amount to a rough teaspoons equivalent by dividing the mL volume by 4.929.)

  1. How Does a Doctor Test for AIDS? (Cat # S-70)

Why we like it: In medicine, ELISAs (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays) are a way to test for infection and immunity. In education, they also let students discover antibodies and their incredible specificity. Edvotek offers several ELISAs but this simple simulation experiment requires minimal pre-lab preparation and has room temperature stable components that can be easily shared or saved.

What you need: Distilled Water, Beakers (50 or 100 mL), Pencils, Gloves, Timer, Paper Towels.



2. Chromogenic Analysis of Water Contaminants (Cat #951)

Why we like it: This experiment gets you outside, hypothesizing and making unique discoveries about your local water bodies all while teaching and using real world environmental biotechnologies. It also adapts well to smaller “classes” – individuals can test multiple water samples for an open and inquiry-based experiment.

What you need: Water samples, water collection bottles, gloves, 10% bleach solution, a UV longwave light source (Cat #969 or similar, these are great for impromptu dances too!)



3. What is an Epidemic and How Does An Infection Spread (Cat #S-68)

Why we like it: Right now physical distancing is a major part of everyone’s lives. This simple but powerful experiment helps individuals learn the biology behind this practice and even more importantly simulates what happens when it’s ignored. While the exercise was designed for a class with 10 lab groups (like most of our kits), it can be adapted to a smaller group as long as you’re willing to play the role of multiple hosts/people – costumes optional.

What you need: Distilled water, gloves, goggles, lab coat. (To prepare this experiment you will need to dilute an acid and a base – use common sense and protective gear.)

4. Write to a Fair Trial: Forensic Handwriting Analysis (Cat #196)

Why we like it: If you’ve been watching a lot of crime based TV series recently this is a great excuse to switch gears and become the quirky and brilliant forensic scientist. (The same goes for any of our forensic science experiments.) We like this one because the components are stable at room temperature and because the chromatography module results are beautiful!

What you need: Ruler, Pencils, beaker, distilled water, isopropanol.



5. How Clean is the Water We Drink and the Air We Breath (Cat #S-30)

Why we like it: This experiment provides the information, basic protocol, and materials for some excellent open-ended microbial tests. Test local water and air supplies for bacteria growth or adapt the kit to answer other questions (“How clean is my bedroom?”, “Are there bacteria living on my skin?”, etc.) Don’t let the requirements of this kit intimidate you – bacteria thrive under a wide range of conditions which means that you can skip the 37oC incubator, just keep your plates incubating at room temperature for an extra day or two.

What you need: Samples, test tubes, pipette pump, water bath, aluminum foil, 10% bleach, microwave.



6. Incredible Immune System Model (Cat # 020)

Why we like it: While not technically an experiment this molecular origami exercise is still a great way to engage student’s hands and minds as they learn about advanced biology topics – in this case the role of T cells and B cells in the immune system. For similar models check out our extensive origami organelles collection.

What you need: Computer, printer, paper.



Our #EdvotekAtHome contest might be ending but we’re hoping the experimenting continues. Call or email us if you have any questions and keep sharing your results!

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