Laboratory Math for Biotechnology

Bench work in the biotechnology laboratory requires that technicians possess certain fundamental math skills and the ability to apply these skills. Beginning biotechnology students often need a "refresher" of basic algebra, scientific notation, logarithms and graphing. They also need to practice applying these concepts to the types of problems encountered in the laboratory. This course tries to address both needs, beginning with a review of basic mathematical and algebraic concepts, and continuing with an exploration of laboratory applications. Students learn different methods to solve problems in unit conversion, solution-making, and preparation of dilutions. They also discuss the fundamentals of graphing both linear and exponential equations and explore some of the laboratory scenarios in which these types of graphing are relevant. Throughout this course, the importance of units (of volume, weight, etc.) is stressed, as is the need to remain mindful of the context in which various math problems are presented. Beginning students generally take this course simultaneously with the course "Basic Laboratory Methods in a Regulated Environment". The opportunity to practice math skills in a separate course helps students gain a competency and confidence that is difficult to achieve within the context of a laboratory course alone. An ability to construct, solve and analyze math problems is fundamental to students' success in both an academic environment and in their future workplaces.

Submitted by Mary Ellen Kraus

Published textbook:

  • Basic Laboratory Calculations for Biotechnology, Lisa A. Seidman (ISBN: 978-0-13-223810-6)

Additional materials*:

  • Syllabus
  • Classroom activities
  • Problem sets
  • PowerPoint lectures
  • Instructor's notes/tips
  • Sample quizzes
  • Sample final exam

*Course-in-a-Box access:  To view additional materials, log in to your InnovATEBIO account.  If you are a biotech faculty member at a college or high school, join InnovATEBIO to get an account.  Note - it may take a few days to verify your faculty position and set up the account.

Open Materials:  

The schedule below describes the typical progression of students through this course. Each week is devoted to one or several competencies and is supported by a combination of reading assignments, classroom activities and lectures, laboratory exercises, homework assignments, and assessments. This schedule is organized into modules which may be reordered, removed or enhanced, depending upon the needs of the students.

Download the weekly schedule from the links below.