Ages 6 and up
Biomedical tests that use antibodies are very important tools for the measurement of molecules and organisms. These tests called immunoassays are common in both medicine and research. The Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay or, ELISA as it is known, is easy to construct and through a color produced by the enzyme can be a sensitive test for specific bacteria. One such bacterium is Streptococcus mutans, which is commonly found on the teeth and gums. Streptococcus mutans is also important since it breaks down sugars and produced organic acids and can lead to tooth decay.
This module allows the student to construct their own ELISA assay from the biological components and then use it to measure known samples of the bacteria and to also look at the bacteria which are found in their own mouths. The students learn how to make this ELISA test and how it works, but this module is also an opportunity to learn about antibodies, enzymes, and bacteria.