Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre

DNA & the Genome | PCR Masterclass: A Question of Taste

A full day, hands-on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) masterclass. Using their own DNA, students will discover and compare their version of a bitter taste receptor gene (genotype) with their ability to taste the bitter compound (phenotype). Includes a unique opportunity to meet and work with our scientists.

Learning Level: Higher & Advanced Higher

Location: Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre, The University of Edinburgh Easter Bush Campus, EH25 9RG

Minimum attendance: 16 (if your group falls below the minimum, we may be able to group you with another school)

Maximum attendance: 24

Duration: 5 hours

Timings: 10am - 3pm

Cost: £10 per pupil


September 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 & 26

October 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 22, 23, 24, 29 & 30

November 12, 13 & 14

Booking enquiries close Friday 30 August 2024.

Please note a booking enquiry form is not a booking. We try our best to accommodate everyone but these workshops are very popular.

 Workshop Description

A full day, hands-on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) masterclass for Higher Biology and Higher Human Biology pupils. Using their own DNA, pupils will discover and compare their version of a bitter taste receptor gene (their genotype) to their ability to taste the bitter compound (their phenotype). They will use cutting-edge equipment to carry out the modern laboratory techniques of DNA extraction, PCR, restriction enzyme digestion and DNA gel electrophoresis.

The equipment was excellent and there was high pupil engagement.

Science Principal TeacherJedburgh Grammar School

Learning Objectives

  • Understand DNA structure and function
  • Understand that we can identify genotypes using molecular biology techniques
  • Understand how restriction enzymes cut DNA
  • Use of restriction enzymes and electrophoresis to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in their own DNA
  • Interpretation of experimental results
  • To reveal the world of work in scientific research

Techniques used

  • DNA extraction
  • Centrifugation
  • Micro-pipetting
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

  • Restriction digest
  • DNA gel electrophoresis

Workshop timeline

  • DNA extraction of pupil's own cheek cells using centrifugation to pellet their cells
  • Introduction to PCR and using micro-pipetting to set up PCR
  • Restriction digest to determine genotype
  • Electrophoresis on agarose gels
  • Analysis and interpretation of results
  • Discussion with scientists from The Roslin Institute 


Curriculum links

Higher Biology
Higher Human Biology

The structure of DNA  

Replication of DNA - Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

Gene expression - Phenotype is determined by the proteins produced as the result of gene expression

Mutations - Mutations and single gene mutations

Genomic Sequencing - Comparison of genomes from different species and individual genomes analysis

Structure and replication of DNA - replication of DNA and Polymerase chain reaction

Gene expression - Phenotype is determined by the proteins produced as the

result of gene expression

Mutations - Mutations are changes in the DNA that can result an altered protein being synthesized (b) Single gene mutations

Human genomics - Individual genomes analysis

Developing the Young Workforce – “I can” statements 

The following "I can" statements are supported through EBSOC’s workshops: 

  • I can identify the skills I have learnt across the curriculum, how these relate to the world of work and can apply these appropriately during work placements and other work-related learning.

  • I can confidently access and interpret the information I need to make well informed choices about my learning options, pathways and how these relate to possible future careers.

  • I can work towards achieving qualifications which support me to achieve my future career aspirations.

Downloadable Resources

Risk Assessment 
Workshop Description 


I really enjoyed it and found it informative. It has also helped my understanding of PCR!

Higher Biology Pupil

It allowed me to use a different variety of equipment and gave me the opportunity to learn more advanced science knowledge. It was also different as it allowed me to participate in a different and lengthier experiment!

Higher Biology Pupil

Pupils had the opportunity to use equipment not available in school to get hands-on experiences of a range of molecular biology techniques. I think the workshop was well organised with a range of activities making the most of waiting time. I was really pleased that pupils were offered a tour of the Roslin Institute.

Higher Biology Teacher

Pupils enjoyed being able to use the PCR equipment and the practical nature of the workshop. They were impressed with the facilities and the content of the workshop. 

Higher Biology Teacher
PCR Masterclass