Department of Biological Sciences,
Hunter College of CUNY


Table 1.   Synopsis, Workbook Modules I - X:
Content,  Exercises,  Equipment

     Table 1 presents a summary of the contents, exercises, materials, and equipment for the first ten RTF Workbook modules as currently performed. With respect to specific equipment items listed here, some differ from those decribed in the full text of certain modules. The reason is that several items that we currently employ were purchased more than five years ago, and are no longer available commercially. However, where that has occurred we list reasonable substitutes that will produce equivalent results.

    These first ten modules are very basic ones which are completed in numbered sequence by nearly every student user. The sequence is carefully designed so that each module builds upon the previous ones. The remaining modules (XI, XII, etc) , though still fundamental to many areas of the biosciences, are somewhat more specialized in terms of instruments and techniques.

    In principle, the RTF concept is meant to be a flexible one in which faculty at a given institution can design special modules and exercises appropriate to their faculty research programs.


Module No and Name;


Principal Equipment, Materials
Introduction #1: Fill out survey questionnaire (part of evaluation assessment) RTF Workbook and questionnaire
I.. Keeping a Research Lab Notebook #1: Obtain a RTF lab notebook, record name and date (used it to record all subsequent RTF activities and data). ; #2: Examine various types of research lab notebooks Research lab notebooks

Lab Safety

#1: View lab safety video; #2: Examine Handbooks: Laboratory Safety and Chemistry and Physics #3: Review OSHA guidelines; #4: Summarize key safety information sources, procedures in RTF notebook; ; #5: Put on protective eyewear; #6: View Glove Safety video; #7, #8, #9: Put on and remove gloves; test glove technique with water; #10: Examine MSDS sheets (example: NaCl); #11: Use of wall chart chemical Hazard Identification System; #12: Locate 3 types of waste disposal containers (normal; hazardous; sharps).; ; #13, #14: Read RTF fire safety booklet; find RTF fire extinguisher; #15, #16: Find and test RTF eyewash station; find RTF shower station; #17: Find First Aid Kit, examine contents VCR and monitor; HHMI safety video;

Reference material (wall chart, handbooks, safety guidelines);

Protective eyewear and gloves; sharps and hazardous waste containers;

Fire extinguisher;

Eyewash, shower stations;

First Aid Kit


Types of Labware

#1: Examine labware in box of specially labeled demonstration labware items;

#2: Use Parafilm to cover labware; #3: Test proper use of snap-cap tubes;

#4: Review of types and usage of labware: questions; #5: Clean up! (placing demonstration labware back in its box)

Various commonly used labware items, labeled (bottles, flasks, tubes, cylinders, pipettes, etc.)

Catalogs, Companies, and Ordering

#1: Examine biological supply co. catalogs ; #2: Obtain biochemical order information (e.g., for ATP); #3: Obtain additional catalog info (ATP salts; order & tech. sevice 800 tel. nos.) ; #4: Fill out a Purchase Order Form for ATP; #5: Obtain labware order information (e.g., Petri dishes); #6: Obtain order info. for any items needed by the RTF (listed on bulletin board) Company catalogs;

Purchase order forms;

Lab bulletin board


Using a Balance

Using a Beam Balance

#1: Zero the beam balance; #2: Weighing an object; #3: Test balance capacity without added weights; #4: Use of added weights; #5: Check the balance beam weights agains standard external weights; #6: Balance containers; #7: Balance two objects against each other

Using an Electronic Balance

#8, #9: Weigh dry material; Weigh wet material

Beam balance;

Standard weight set;

Electronic balance


Water Quality

#1: Measure "resistivity" of tap vs. deionized distilled water, sugar & salt sol’ns

#2: Find labware drying pegboard; typical lab pegboard condition: unfit for use

#3: Follow instructions for proper washing of beaker used in resistivity exercise

#4: Take "Field Trip" to the Department Washeteria (glassware washing facility)

Conductivity meter;

Drying pegboard;

Glassware bucket;

Detergent, drying basket




#1: Measure volumes: volumetric flask vs. graduated cylinder; #2: Examine pipette calibration markings; #3: Do pipetting using a "suction bulb"; #4: Examine fixed volume capillary micropipettes; #5: Examine variable volume micropipettors; #6: Use the 1000 ul micropipettor and others to measure volumes; #7: Measure volumes by weight. vol. flasks, graduated cylinders

pipette suction bulb

fixed volume capillary micropipettes

variable volume micro-pipetters


Making Chemical Solutions

#1: Find "Formula Weight" (FW) on reagent bottles; #2: Calculate formula weights from chemical formulas and atomic weights; #3: Use electronic balance and volumetric flask to prepare 1M NaCl; #4: Measure solution volumes after freezing; #5: Use Handbook of Chemistry and Physics to check properties of a chemical; #6: Find more information on a chemical bottle label; #7: Prepare a solution with concentration specified as weight per unit volume; #8, #9, #10: Prepare solutions with the concentration specified as percent; #11: Prepare a solution with concentration in "parts per million" (ppm) Chemical (sucrose and NaCl) reagent bottles;

Periodic Table chart;

Electronic balance;

Volumetric flasks;


Handbook of chemistry and physics


Stock Solutions and Dilutions

#1: Prepare a dilute solution from a concentrated stock: the ingredients Table

#2, #3: Prepare 5% sucrose from 10% stock; 1% sucrose from 5% solution

#4: Prepare 0.1M NaCl sucrose from1M NaCl; #5: Write an "Ingredients Table" to make 10U/ml heparin from 50U/ml stock; #6: Write ingredients Table to make 30% v/v ethanol from 95% v/v ethanol; #7: Repeat, except to make 30% v/v ethanol from 95% v/v ethanol ; #8: Repeat, except to make 20% v/v from 75% v/v glycerol

#9 - #12: Prepare solutions containing ingredient mixtures; #13: Prepare solution by serial dilution.; #14 - #15: Prepare solution sets with an increasing conc. of an ingredient; #16: Dilute one solution with another containing the same reagent

#17: Prepare a highly concentrated stock solution for large volume experiments

#18: Examine real dilution problems in biosciences research labs at Hunter

sucrose (table sugar from supermarket)

test tubes


magnetic stirrer and bars


Using A pH Meter; Preparing Buffer Solutions

#1: Examine "Acids and Bases - Normality" information sheet, on wall above pH meter; answer molarity and normality questions in a Table in RTF notebook.

#2: Compare controls, readout of 2 types of pH meters, digital vs. analog, visually

#3: Get familiar with "accumet model 5" pH meter

#4: Do one-point pH standardization; #5: Determine unknown pH; #6: Turn meter off; #7: Do a two-point pH standardization; #8: Make various pH determinations

#9: Use the Corning 340 digital pH meter, 2-point standardization

#10: Examine label descriptions of Na2HPO4 and NaH2PO4 ("mono" vs. "dibasic")

#11: Look at posted tables, charton useful pH ranges, centering on the pKa for each

#12: Prepare 100 ml 0.1M potassium phosphate (KH2PO4) buffer pH 6.2 and pH 7.4.

#13:Prepare 100 ml of 1/15 M sodium phosphate buffer at pH 7.4 using Table

#14: Repeat previous exercise by simply adding water and potassium phosphate stock to beaker, then add 1N KOH in measured volumes (using pipette)

"accumet model 5" pH meter

Corning 340 digital pH meter

standard pH buffers

bottles of Na2HPO4 and NaH2PO4

bottle of KH2PO4