Eyeball Dissection Sunday August 9

On Sunday August 9th Anna McCann MSc will lead our first Eyeball Dissection class.  Learn about the structure and function of different parts of the eye before dissecting a cow’s eye and exploring them firsthand. No dissection or biology experience required, just enthusiasm and curiosity. Children are invited to attend, but must be supervised by parents during class.

Class runs from 2-5pm, and the $35 fee includes one cow eyeball to dissect.

Register at this link – space is limited!

New HiveBio Discussion Group Meetings

Join us for our bimonthly discussion group at Roy Street Coffee in Capitol Hill. Facilitated by HiveBio member Valerie Sexton, the discussion group is the perfect place to learn more about HiveBio Community Lab, discuss a project that you have in mind, talk about an interesting development in bioscience, and meet like-minded citizen scientists.

Our first group meeting will be Tuesday July 15 from 7-9pm. See you there!

For questions please call 206.271.1475

Scientific Illustration of Bees & Other Organisms

EDIT: This class will be rescheduled for a date in the near future TBD!

HiveBio will be hosting an all-day retreat on the scientific illustration of bees. Proceeds will go to Urban Pollination Project, HiveBio, and UW Beekeeping Club.


9-10:15: Early arrival for learning insect collection & trapping.
10:30-11:30 or 12: Marie Clifford will lead a bee tour of the grounds.
12-12:30: lunch break.
12:30-1:00: Pinning of specimens caught earlier.
1:00-1:30: Look at different pinned specimens, Dr. Evan Sugden will discuss the various bee families and answer any and all questions about bees!
1:30-3:00: Angela Mele will lead a course on bee drawing drawing + bee drawing pin-up presentations!

Students under 18 are welcome, but they must have a parent present.

In order to acquire the materials for this class, pre-registration is required. All material for drawing will be included in registration costs.

Please contact hivebio.ed@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns about this class.

Register via Brown Paper Tickets at this link!


DIY Chemistry and Craftsmanship – Join us June 21-22

Join HiveBio for some DIY chemistry and craftsmanship at our scenic community lab location at the Talaris Center! Saturday June 21st Dr. Reitha Weeks will teach us about The Science Behind Lotions. Learn about the science and regulation of cosmetics and make your own lotion to take home!

June 22nd we are running another session of our DIY smartphone to digital microscope class. Build your own digital microscope by constructing a stand for your smartphone following this instructable! Explore the Talaris campus and find cool things to view with your new scope!

Read more about these classes on our Upcoming Class Schedule page, or contact HiveBio@gmail.com with any questions.

Registration is available at our Class Registration page. See you in the lab!

Reserve Your Brain for Beginning Neurobiology

Today is the last day to reserve your own brain for the sheep brain dissection at our Beginning Neurobiology class on Saturday May 31st. Registration is still open at this link. This class is suitable for adults and children who have never done a dissection before, but children must be supervised by a parent. Brains are preserved in non-toxic material.

Learn about neuroanatomy with a hands-on dissection and discuss physiology of the brain and nervous system. Find out how the brain coordinates movements, helps us process complex thoughts, and discover what is different between male and female brains!

Co-founder Bergen McMurray and Dr. Lawrence Own will begin class at 3pm, and class will run 2-3 hours, so reserve your brain now, and think of some exciting questions to bring to class on the 31st! See you in the lab!

Dr. Hannah Chapin Demonstrates how Geneticists “Model” using C. elegans

On April 12th, Dr. Hannah Chapin taught a workshop on the model organism C. elegans. One of the first questions that came up was, “What is a model organism?” Caenorhabditis elegans is a microscopic roundworm and precisely nothing like Tyra Banks, so why the word “model?” Students learned that the term “model” is used in the sense of model planes or model cars, where a miniature and often simplified version of something is used for exploration before working on a higher organism, such as a mouse. Even though C. elegans doesn’t have a brain, it’s used to explore how the nervous system develops and how neural connections affect behavior. And though no worm has ever been observed smoking a cigarette, C. elegans has also been used to explore aspects of nicotine addiction.

at the scopes

HiveBio students learn how mutations affect phenotypes in the model organism, C. elegans.

Hannah alternated presentations on C. elegans development, anatomy, and genetics with opportunities to get to know the worms. Slides with anesthetized worms illustrated the effect of temperature on development. We also got to look at worms crawling on plates and chowing down on bacteria using microscopes in the lab. Along with the normal worms, we also looked at some mutant worms with stumpy bodies and strange locomotion. Knowing the DNA mutation they carried, these C. elegans mutants illustrated the link between genotype and phenotype that Hannah taught in the workshop.

The science of these model organisms has moved far beyond mere characterization. They are used for mapping the location of mutations on a chromosome, and are used to determine whether a given worm carries a particular genetic construct. This brought us to Hannah’s research.

fluorescent worms

Hannah explains how C. elegans is used in research at the University of Washington.

Hannah studies autophagy (from the Greek for self-eating), a combination a trash-removal and recycling system in the cell. After introducing one of the techniques she uses, Hannah showed some of her data. The class participated in a discussion of what could be inferred from the images. Hannah provided hints, as well as background on why the results were significant or unexpected. It was an interesting peek into the lab, and a rare opportunity to see unpublished data.

smartphone scope 1

C. elegans viewed with DIY Microscopes at HiveBio

The class ended with some time for questions and answers. As is so often the case in science, sometimes the answer was simply, “That’s a great question. We don’t know that yet.” Though not as complex as higher organisms, there is still a great deal we don’t know about the tiny roundworm, C. elegans, and it will probably keep Dr. Hannah Chapin and other researchers busy for years to come.

If you missed the class and want to learn about C. elegans, Jove.com has a video introduction. If you want to dive in and learn more, there are a number of sites full of information on C. elegans, including WormBook.org, an open-source textbook.


Photos and Correspondence by Christine Lloyd and Sara Hayden

Sign Up for HiveBio Summer Camps!


At Camp BIOmed students will take part in hands-on experiments at local biomedical business and research facilities, tour local Seattle biomedical organizations, and track their own findings in lab journals. Each week of the summer camp will conclude with a camp-wide expo where students will share group and individual projects and contributions.

Students can choose from 2 tracks: HiveBio Community Lab Neuroscience, and FoldIt! HiveBio will be partnering with the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering to offer weekly sessions focused on hands-on applied science and the excitement of neuroscience!

Camp is open to all students entering 9th-12th grade for the upcoming school year. Camp sessions are weekly between July 7-August 15, 2014. Spots are limited, so register today!



A Sweet Way to Learn Molecular Biology

On Saturday March 29th Mariola Kulawiec and Lawrence Own led HiveBio’s first Electrophoresis class. Four eager students learned about gel electrophoresis using the artificial colors in candies as a bright (and sticky) example of how this technique can be used in chemistry and biology.

Lawrence with gel tray

Lawrence kicked things off with a brief presentation on the theory behind gel electrophoresis and how it’s used to test properties of DNA, RNA and proteins in biological experiments. He then explained to participants what they will be doing in the lab. Step one: use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to extract the coloring agents from various candies. Step two: Separate the colors using gel electrophoresis!

Experimental setup

Class in sessionOur students first had to design their experiment. There were many candies to choose from, but only room on the gel for each person to test a select number of samples. How to choose? Compare single colors across candy types? Make a rainbow? Go for your favorite flavors?

As students set up their candies for extraction, Mariola went over how to keep a record of their experiment using a handout, and emphasized the importance of labeling. In fact, everybody in the room who had worked in a lab before agreed on the importance of having everything labeled clearly. Lawrence explained how to make an agarose gel, and supervised while students prepared one of their own.

Making the gelDuring preparation, the candies were soaking in alcohol, but it seemed like the extraction was going very slowly, if at all. What could be the problem? Were the candies used not very well suited to the experiment? Did they need more mixing? Was there a difference between shaking the sample cups and using a pipette to run the alcohol over the candies? What about confectioner’s wax; could the candies be coated? What would happen if the M&Ms were crushed; would the alcohol extract colored compounds from the chocolate?
As often happens in science, one experiment sparked the ideas for many others.

After a brief adventure with a leaky gel tray, students broke out the micro-pipettes and began making standards from commercial food coloring. Working with tiny volumes of food coloring was good practice for handling the extractions.

Loading the gel 1

Loading the gel for electrophoresis requires a steady hand.

And then, it was time for the big challenge – loading the gel! There was one sample too many, and a brief paper-rock-scissors competition ensued to see who would leave out one of their food coloring standards. Loading the gel correctly was a test of lab notebook record-keeping, steady hands, spatial awareness, and tube labeling. During the process a few of the small tubes fell through the rack, but thanks to accurate labeling, no samples were lost!

Finished gel

After some waiting, chatting, and ducking out of the lab to eat some of the untested candies, the gel was done!

Despite challenges and set-backs, a good time was had by all. The class generated some great discussion about results, future experiments and troubleshooting experimental methods for the next round of Candy Electrophoresis! Join us next time!

Veenadhari explains 1

Veenadhari Kollipara explains gel electrophoresis to friends and family

Mariola and Lawrence both work for Invention Evaluator.
Mariola is also the founder of Witty Scientists (facebook.com/WittyScientists).

Photos and Correspondence by Christine Lloyd

HiveBio hosts Dr. Reitha Weeks and The Science Behind Lotions

On Saturday March 22nd HiveBio hosted a workshop on the science of lotions, led by Dr. Reitha Weeks, volunteer at Bellevue College Science and Math Institute (SAMI). WIN_20140322_151614 Students learned about what falls under the category of ‘cosmetics’ and the role that the FDA plays in regulating the cosmetics we use every day. Students learned about requirements for labeling on cosmetics containers and how to interpret what the product claims to do. Reitha also discussed the topics of safety testing and new technologies developed to replace the need for testing on animals. She described a lotion recipe by explaining the basic science behind what each of the ingredients does to make lotion the color and consistency that we are familiar with.

WIN_20140322_153156The hands-on element of this workshop brought the class from HiveBio’s boardroom into the lab where students used the information given in the initial class to make, and understand the process of making, lotions of their own. Once the lotion was made, it was outside to the fragrance station. Everyone added fragrances of choice to their lotion while enjoying the pleasant sunshine and tranquil Talaris  Center campus grounds.


Students returned to the boardroom, lotion in hand, to discover more about safety testing and the differences between the regulation of cosmetics and drugs. The workshop received great feedback with everyone having enjoyed the afternoon.

Photos and Correspondence by Sara Hayden