UC San Diego SearchMenu

Biology Curriculum

ScienceBridge Labs (professionally designed): 

Bacterial Transformation using Fluorescent Proteins

Fluorescent proteins are used often in laboratory research. Dr. Roger Tsien at UCSD developed a rainbow of colors that you can transform into bacteria in your classroom!

Protein Purification

Students will use column chromatography to isolate the fluorescent proteins from a mixture of cell debris.

Enzyme-Substrate Reactions

Students will use tyrosinase extracted from mushrooms to create an enzymatic reaction under different conditions. After comparing the results of each condition, it is clear which factors affect enzyme function.

Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification is a phenomenon related to current global climate changes, and is becoming a major threat to marine ecosystems ranging from tropical coral reefs to the chilly waters of the Antarctic. In this lesson, students observe and investigate the mechanisms driving ocean acidification. The lesson and lab make connections to basic chemical principles such as acids/bases and the pH scale.


RNAi is an excellent way to examine the process of the central dogma. In this lab, we will look at the microscopic nematode, C. elegans.

Sense-able Smells

Students learn that odors are molecules that have a specific shape. Students also learn why chemists write chemicals the way they do!

Socrates (graduate student designed):

Amazing Amylase Race

Graduate Fellow Alfred Chappell & Teacher Partner David Buse

Students explore principles of enzyme activity and measure the amylase content of their own saliva.

Behavioral Ecology of Bees

Graduate Fellow Meg Eckles & Teacher Partner Jeff Kepper

Ecology is a grand synthesis of biological interactions, and can be overwhelming in its complexity. Using the biology of bees as a guide, we have developed curriculum designed to make these interactions and relationships more accessible to students.

Biodiversity: Patterns and processes

Graduate Fellow Sheila Walsh & Teacher Partner Frank Luera

San Diego bird biodiversity is used as a case study to teach students about biodiversity patterns and processes (San Diego is a biodiversity hotspot, and is threatened with habitat loss). 

Bioinformatics of Cancer

Graduate Fellow Shawn Yost & Teacher Partner Darci Kimball

Students explore the procedure used to determine if a patient has cancer.

C.A.N.C.E.R. Creative Approaches for N-Gaging Students in Cancer Education and Research

Graduate Fellow Shanique Young & Teacher Partner Kim Elliot

Students compete to see who can survive as a migrating cell while learning what cells need to survive.

DNA Damage Project

Graduate Fellow Sam Lasse & Teacher Partner Don Mackay

Students use fluorescent protein technology to investigate DNA damage by UV light.

Evolution and Natural Selection: Adaptations seabirds have evolved to thrive at sea

Graduate Fellow Ignacio Vilchis & Teacher Partner Jennifer Jackson

Students explore seabird evolution over geologic time. The lifestyle of seabirds dictates the shape and size of their wings. Graphing this ratio helps students understand and illustrate these adaptations. 

Evolving Before Our Eyes: A hands-on approach to teaching evolution in real time

Graduate Fellow Tamara Bhandari & Teacher Partner Camille Fowler

How do you make a superbug? Bacteria are rapidly evolving resistance to many antibiotics. How does this happen, and can students recreate the process?

Fish Phylogenetics

Graduate Fellow Tristan Carland & Teacher Partner Tom McElfresh

Phylogenetics, dichotomous keys, and shark diversity.

Genomics, Bioinformatics, and Health

Graduate Fellow Roger Chang & Teacher Partner Autumn Ross

Students take a look at a scientist’s genome, and have to figure out whether this scientist has a potentially troublesome variant of a gene.

Lost in Translation: The depletion of collagen in C. elegans

Graduate Fellow Lindsay Lewellyn & Teacher Partner Darci Kimball

RNA interference is explored through the use of nematodes. Students deplete proteins in the roundworms and watch as the worms become short and fat. 

Mutating GFP

Graduate Fellow Alyssa Wu-Zhang & Teacher Partner Jesse Wade Robinson

This activity explores how Roger Tsien developed a rainbow of proteins from GFP and RFP.

Neuroscience Methods Exploration

Graduate Fellow Nicole Swann & Teacher Partner Matt Leader

This lesson introduces students to many methods in neuroscience, including lesion studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Reading and Interpreting Brain Waves

Graduate Fellow Adam Koerner & Teacher Partner Tom McElfresh

Students learn how brain waves are read through electroencephalography (EEG), and compete in brain games to learn about brain-computer interfaces.

Releasing Stored Energy in Pond Scum

Graduate Fellow Jillian Blatti & Teacher Partner Jenelle Javier

Students explore the principles behind biofuels.

Roundworms (Nematodes) in the Classroom

Graduate Fellow Gloriana Gallegos Trujillo & Teacher Partner Jessica McSwain

Students explore biodiversity, genetics, and ecology through the discovery of nematodes in their local soil.

Stem Cells and Smart Materials

Graduate Fellow Ameya Phadke & Teacher Partner Ryan Benedict

To help teach students the roles of organelles, students act out those roles in a race to see which cell can create proteins first!

Structure and Function of Neurons

Graduate Fellow Shamim Sinnar & Teacher Partner Victor Rodriguez

Proteins’ effects on neuron morphology.

Swimming Through the Yeast Cell

Graduate Fellow Sarah Burnett & Teacher Partner Dave Buse

Students explore inside the cell, looking at protein-protein interactions.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Flies

Graduate Fellow Erilynn Heinrichsen & Teacher Partner Lynda Spendlove

Students design, draw, and see mutants! How do you mutate a fly? Through its DNA, of course. Students begin with a mutation and figure out how genotype leads to phenotype.

Three-Dimensional Proteins Structure and Ligand Binding

Graduate Fellow John Yamauchi & Teacher Partner Dominic Dirksen

Students will synthesize a protein as individual amino acids and function as a catalyst.