This is a guest post from Mr. Jeffrey Wells, a biomedical sciences & physics teacher at Lancaster High School, OH. Follow him on Twitter.
Over the course of the past two years, COVID-19 has dominated our daily lives. Students often have questions about the virus, treatments, and vaccinations. As part of my Biomedical Science students’ study of COVID-19, we completed Edvotek’s Nucleic Acid Test for COVID-19 gel electrophoresis kit. This was not my students’ first experience with gel electrophoresis, so they were very familiar with the techniques and equipment involved.
Overall, the experiment ran flawlessly. I prepared the buffer solution for the students prior to class, and the students worked in teams of two or three to complete the experiment. After a brief discussion of COVID-19 testing and how gel electrophoresis relates to the testing process, we began our work. The students poured their own agarose gels and let them cool. They then injected the gels with the six kit-provided DNA samples. Once all of the student teams were ready, we ran the gels. We used the Edvotek M12 Electrophoresis Apparatus with an Edvotek Tetrasource power supply. I ran the gels at 150 volts for 25 minutes.
The results were just as expected – a clear DNA Standard Marker in lane 1, COVID positive and negative controls in lanes 2 & 3, and the simulated patient results in lanes 4-6. All of the student teams were able to clearly and accurately measure their results and determine which patient(s) were COVID-positive.
I did differ from the written instructions in two ways:
1. The kit only provided Flash Blue stain. However, the instructions indicated that SYBR Safe could be used instead. I had extra SYBR Safe on hand, and we have previously had wonderful results using it, so I had the students add the diluted mixture to their agarose gels. At the end of the experiment, we viewed the gels through an Edvotek Transilluminator. The SYBR Safe made the banding within the gels very visible.
2. I had my students “dry load” the DNA samples into the gel wells. While I know that dry loading gels is not a “standard” practice, my students are still novices at using micropipettes. Dry loading the gels allows them to have more control over the pipette tip, and therefore there is a lower risk of puncturing the bottom of the gel or otherwise damaging gel.
In the end, I would highly recommend this lab kit to any interested educator. I feel that it was both an educationally beneficial and rewarding experience for my students. We were able to complete the entire lab in a single 82 minute class period.
I am very thankful to Edvotek for the opportunity to test this lab with my students, and I look forward to any such future opportunities.