Special Explorations for Teachers & Students

The SETS program provides an opportunity for teachers to bring their students on campus for a custom designed science experience. Based on the goals and objectives of each teacher, CPET works with UF faculty, staff, and students to create an exciting educational exploration of current research concepts, applications and careers in the fields of science.

The University of Florida is located in Gainesville, Florida in North Central Florida. Situated on 2,000 acres and home to over 49,000 of the brightest minds, the University embraces tradition while fostering continued growth and discovery. The University campus is quite expansive and students and teachers are encouraged to explore the many offerings.

Advanced biotechnology and DNA Science Explorations take place in a teaching laboratory at the UF Cancer/Genetics Research Complex. As a part of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research, the teaching laboratory offers students the chance to use authentic research equipment in a true academic laboratory.

High School Explorations

DNA Science for High Schoolers


3 hours


Grades 8-12


For the advanced gel electrophoresis portion there are several different labs available depending on your interests (all of these labs utilize the E-gel system):


Crime Scene Investigation

We will discuss original fingerprinting methods and the technique commonly used today and made popular by “CSI” and similar shows. The students will have the opportunity to perform gel electrophoresis using DNA samples simulating a crime scene. Students will analyze their results and compare banding patterns to determine the guilty party. This activity is also available as a “Harry Potter” storyline.


Modes of Inheritance

Students receive a 24-member family tree and DNA samples presumably taken from each family member. They determine the genotype of each of the relatives by cutting the DNA samples with a restriction enzyme and separating the fragments by gel electrophoresis. Please note there is an additional $50 cost associated with this lab.



Students become virus hunters as they interpret DNA fingerprints to identify the viral strain responsible for a potentially deadly fictitious disease outbreak (uses harmless predigested DNA).

DNA Restriction Enzyme Analysis and Bacterial Transformation (AP Biology Investigations 8 & 9)

6 hours

$375 DNA Restriction Enzyme Analysis

$325 Bacterial Transformation

AP Biology or Advanced students, Grades 10-12



  • Pipetting by Design
  • Restriction Digest and Analysis of Lambda DNA
  • Advanced Gel Electrophoresis
  • pGLO Bacterial Transformation

This exploration is designed in-line with the AP Biology Investigations 8 & 9. The restriction digestion or bacterial transformation can also be scheduled separately. Restriction enzymes are used by bacteria to cut DNA at specific nucleotide sequences. In the laboratory, these enzymes are often used as molecular scissors for genetic engineering. In this lab, students use three restriction enzymes (EcoRI, HindIII, and PstI) to cut DNA. Students then use agarose gel electrophoresis to separate the DNA fragments by size and analyze the DNA pattern on the gel. Bacteria can be genetically modified by transformation, a process whereby cells take up foreign DNA. In this laboratory, students induce bacteria to take up DNA-containing genes that give the bacteria two new characteristics: resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin and the ability to fluoresce green. Back in their classroom, students will verify the presence of these traits and determine their transformation efficiency.


This Exploration is available to advanced students in upper grades. Each laboratory includes 8 work stations with a maximum of 32 students. The DNA restriction enzyme and bacterial transformation laboratories can be completed on the same day. This exploration uses the E-Gel system. Students have the opportunity to visit the Reitz Union and UF Bookstore/Welcome Center for lunch.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

6-7 hours

Part 1 = 2 hours

Part 2 = 3.5 hours or overnight for thermal cycler to run

Part 3 = 1 hour


Advanced students, Grades 10-12



  • Pipetting by Design
  • PCR (there are several options available, please see below)
  • Advanced Gel Electrophoresis

Human DNA Fingerprinting:

Students use real–world forensic techniques to extract DNA from their hair follicles or cheek cells, and then use PCR amplification and electrophoresis to fingerprint their own DNA at a specific genetic locus (chromosome 16). Using their own results, students can also test the Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium theory within their classroom population, then go online to compare their classroom results to genetic data of populations worldwide.


GMO Investigation

Current regulations in the US do not require that genetically modified foods be labeled as such. Using common grocery store items, students test samples of their favorite foods for the presence of modified genes.


Crime Scene Investigator PCR

Using PCR, students will amplify short tandem repeats in DNA samples and determine which suspect matches the DNA found at the crime scene.



Contact us to develop a custom PCR lab to identify a gene of interest within an organism of your choice.

The Pompe Predicament (short and extended versions)

3-5 hours


Grades 9-12


May include:

  • DNA Structure to Function Science Take-Out Kit
  • GAA colorimetric assay

Pompe disease affords the rare opportunity for students to consider multiple biological concepts and assemble them into a story.  Instead of DNA taught separate from protein structure and function, these areas as well as enzymes, genetics and human disease are all taught together through the story of Pompe disease.

 Middle School Explorations 

DNA Science for Middle Schoolers

3 hours


Grades 6-8


Deoxyribonucleic acid is as much fun to say as it is to work with. To enhance their learning of the structure of DNA, students will construct candy DNA models that are a tasty treat for the ride back home! Students will also extract DNA from plant cells so they can visualize genetic material.