Science Education

Formerly known as European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond. We belong to EMBL’s Science Education and Public Engagement office.

TeachingBASE workshop  

Copy that! – making sense of PCR (computer-based)


Invented in the 1980s, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) has become indispensable in life science laboratories and is used on a daily basis. If you are a STEM teacher interested in a new educational tool that introduces students to PCR,  join the online TeachingBASE workshop “Copy that! – making sense of PCR (computer-based)” on Thursday, 12 May 2022, run by EMBL’s European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS). The workshop’s working language is English.

ELLS offers workshops on two additional molecular biology resources. For more information, visit the workshops’ respective web pages. 

“Copy that! – making sense of PCR” (paper-based) on 6 April 2022, 18:00- 20:00 CET

“Fluorescent recombinants- making sense of molecular cloning” on 18 May 2022, 18:00-20:00 CET

About the educational resource

“Copy that!-making sense of PCR” is a computer-based, hands-on teaching resource that guides students through the process of designing a PCR experiment to detect a viral gene. To achieve this goal, students first use the online tool Primer3Plus to find potential primers in a cDNA sequence. Then, students design the PCR programme and evaluate the outcome of the experiment by interpreting the results visualised on an agarose gel picture. All resource tasks will take 90-120 minutes to complete.

The resource is designed to teach PCR to students aged 16-20 years in the classroom or remotely. Students should be familiar with the basic concepts of DNA and RNA. It will also be beneficial if they already know some basics of cDNA and PCR.

To equip students with the information they need to complete the resource exercises, the resource provides fact sheets, the ELLS Taq Polymerase data sheet, a step-by-step guide for using Primer3Plus, student worksheets covering computational exercises and a fraction of the cDNA sequence of the SARS-CoV2 RNA dependent RNA Polymerase. 

By using this resource, your students will 

  • follow authentic procedures carried out in scientific laboratories
  • learn about the concept of PCR and its applications  
  • design PCR primers and a PCR protocol
  • learn how to use an online tool for primer design
  • learn how to interpret PCR results

About the workshop

This workshop is for educators who teach any level of upper secondary school biology and is particularly suitable for those teaching students aged 16 and older. The workshop will take place online via Zoom on Thursday, 12 May 2022, from 18:00 – 20:00 CEST. Please join around 10 mins in advance for audio check. 

We will start this workshop with a short introduction to the “Copy that! – making sense of PCR” educational resource. Participants will then get a chance to try out the learning material themselves, working in small teams with the Primer3Plus tool to explore the resource from the perspectives of students and educators. 

By the end of the workshop, participants will

  • be familiar with a new resource for teaching biology in secondary school
  • feel confident in using the new material in the classroom
  • feel competent in using the Primer3Plus software in the classroom
  • expand their network of international teachers


European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS)

This training opportunity is organised by EMBL‘s science education department ELLS. The ELLS programmes convey complex, cutting-edge topics in life science research in an exciting and insightful way, fostering the discovery of current research trends, the scientific method, and scientific career paths.  We offer continued professional development training for teachers and develop educational resources based on EMBL science. Our programmes for school students and young learners explore the advances in scientific research inside and outside the classroom. Visit our website to learn more about our activities.

Requirements & certificate


We recommend a minimum English language level of B2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to get the most out of the TeachingBASE workshop. Please consult this self-assessment chart if you are unsure about your language skills.

The TeachingBASE workshop will take place on the Zoom meeting tool. To join the workshop, participants will need to have access to a computer with a stable internet connection, audio connection as well as a camera. Click here for more information on how to install and use Zoom. 


Participants will receive a certificate of attendance upon completion of the TeachingBASE workshop.


Terms and conditions

Please make yourself familiar with the terms and conditions for participating in our workshops and on data protection. Your agreement towards these terms and conditions is required before you can continue with applying for the workshop.

As we anticipate the ELLS TeachingBASE workshop to be very popular, we ask participants to only apply if they are certain that they can attend. In case you find yourself unable to attend after having received our confirmation email, please notify us as soon as possible by email but no later than one week before the start of the workshop.

Please note that cancellations and non-attendance might jeopardise the viability of the workshop for other participants.


Please ensure that you have read all TeachingBASE workshop information on this page before applying and are confident that you are available on the workshop date.

To apply, please fill in the application form. The workshop spots are distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis. Priority will be given to educators who teach secondary school biology. All accepted applicants will be contacted within 7 days of application submission with further information about the workshop. The workshop will only take place if a minimum number of 15 participants have registered.

Date: 12 - 12 May 2022

Time: 18:00-20:00 CET

Application deadline: 5 May 2022

Topic area:  Methods in molecular biology

Format: Virtual

Location: Online

Fee: Free

Contact: ELLS Team

Organiser: ELLS