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Gel Box Science

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Gel Box Science 4 groups of 8 students

Gel Box Science

This Biotechnology Basics™ kit by Ellyn Daugherty is designed to teach the basic principles of a gel box, specifically horizontal agarose gel electrophoresis. The kit is supplied with all the reagents necessary to conduct 4 gel box science experiments, each using a gel box (not supplied).

The multifaceted kit will introduce students to the equipment used in horizontal electrophoresis and will highlight the key elements of a standard gel box.  Once students understand the gel box, they will explore the science by comparing running buffers with and without salt ions and understanding the relationship between volts and milliamps. Now that students understand the science behind running buffers, the next step is to explore how molecules behave during electrohphoresis.  In this part of the kit, students will get to practice loading wells and then load eight different samples. Four samples use differently charged dyes so students can see the difference in migration of charged molecules.  The remaining four samples and DNA samples, featuring a DNA ladder, a plasmid, genomic DNA and Lambda DNA. These combined with a fluorescent stain (UV transilluminator or BLUE LED light box required) allow the migration of DNA to be monitored and size of DNA to be estimated.


  • The parts of a gel box unit
  • The science of a gel box
  • How molecules behave during electrophoresis

The following laboratory activity was inspired by two lab activities. One, “Using Gel Electrophoresis to Study DNA Molecules” from Biotechnology: Science for the New Millennium Laboratory Manual by Ellyn Daugherty and the other one, “The Chemistry and Physics of a Gel Box” originally developed by the Gene Connection Partnership of San Mateo County in 1989. For more information about Biotechnology: Laboratory Manual curriculum, please visit This kit is produced under license from Paradigm Publishing, Inc., a division of New Mountain Learning.

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