7.02 | Spring 2005 | Undergraduate
Experimental Biology & Communication


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Labs: 2 sessions / week, 4+ hours / session

Scientific Communication: 6 sessions / 12 weeks, 2 hours / session

Course Description

As its name suggests, 7.02 / 10.702 is fundamentally an experimental biology course. Thus, you will spend most of your “in-class” time in the teaching laboratory practicing fundamental techniques in microbiology, biochemistry, and cell biology. In addition to learning how to perform these techniques safely, we want to help you understand why techniques work the way they do, and what scientific questions can be addressed with different techniques. Our focus is on helping you integrate factual knowledge with an understanding of experimental design and data analysis - skills that will be important should you later pursue a UROP, take a Project Lab course, or go on to graduate or medical school.

Over the course of the term, you will complete four, three week “modules” in the areas of Microbial Genetics, Protein Biochemistry, Recombinant DNA Methods, and Development. Through lectures and recitations related to each module, you will gain context for the experiments you will carry out in the teaching laboratory, and will be exposed to techniques beyond the scope of this course. In the laboratory itself, you will be asked to keep a complete record of your experimental work in the form of a laboratory notebook, to grapple with (sometimes confusing) results, and to fit each day’s experiments into the context of the module as a whole.

Scientific Communication

In addition to working in the laboratory, you will also be learning to communicate your scientific findings to a broader audience. As you may or may not know, much of a practicing scientist’s time is spent writing and communicating his/her results - in the form of grant applications, manuscripts, talks, and poster presentations - yet many scientists are never formally “taught” these things. In biweekly SciComm sections, you will encounter the seven parts of a scientific research article, and will have the opportunity to practice this type of writing through in-class and out-of-class exercises. Many of the SciComm assignments connect directly to the experiments done in the teaching laboratory, thus allowing students to reinforce their understanding of this material through their writing. Scientific communication - like research science - is a collaborative effort, and thus you will have the opportunity to read and give feedback on your peers’ writing. You will also be encouraged to use the feedback from your peers and writing instructors to improve your writing through frequent revisions.

The Scientific Communication content for this course can be found in the 7.02CI Experimental Biology - Communications Intensive, Spring 2005 OCW Web site.

Class Meetings


Lectures are held twice weekly for all students and cover material related to each of the four areas of Microbial Genetics, Protein Biochemistry, Recombinant DNA Methods, and Development.

Laboratory and Recitations

Students are assigned to a laboratory section that meets twice a week. Laboratory for all students begins with recitation. After recitation, students will proceed to the laboratory.


Students will be assigned to a SciComm section. SciComm sections meet approximately every other week during the term for 2 hours (6 meetings total).

Textbooks and Class Notes

You are not required to purchase any textbooks for 7.02 / 10.702. If you need a good reference book for introductory biology, we recommend that you obtain a copy of the 7.01x textbook (Purves, Life: The Science of Biology).

Purves, William K., et. al. Life: The Science of Biology. 7th ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates; Gordonsville, VA: W. H. Freeman and Co., 2003. ISBN: 9780716798569. (hardcover)

In general, 7.02 / 10.702 lecture notes are not posted on the course Web site; you are responsible for obtaining lecture notes from a classmate if you do not attend lecture. We will, however, post recitation notes on the course Web site after the recitation has been given. These are meant to supplement the notes you take in recitation, not replace them completely.

Maloy, Stanley R., John E. Cronan, Jr., and David Freifelder. Microbial Genetics. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1994. ISBN: 9780867202489.

Moran, Laurence A., et. al. Biochemistry. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994. ISBN: 9780138144432

Gilbert, Scott F. Developmental Biology. 7th ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2003. ISBN: 99780878932580. (hardcover)


Each student must maintain a laboratory notebook. This notebook must be bound with numbered pages and must contain carbons, as a copy of each day’s laboratory work will be turned in to the teaching assistants for evaluation. Recording data on loose sheets of paper is unacceptable, as are data recorded on scraps of paper to be recopied into a notebook later.

Each enrolled student is also required to purchase a set of laboratory manuals. The manuals contain the experiments and background information for each module of the course, and are required to prepare each day’s laboratory notebook entry.

Laboratory Partners

Students in the teaching laboratory work in teams of two, and are assigned to a particular bench station. You may request a particular person to be your laboratory partner when filling out the Student Information Sheet; requests will be honored if:

  1. Both partners make the request; and
  2. Both students are placed in the same laboratory section.

A word of warning: best friends don’t always make the best laboratory partners, so choose wisely!

If you do not request a laboratory partner, one will be assigned to you. We will try to place people with partners that live on the same side of campus or on the same side of the river to facilitate data exchange and preparation for lab. No laboratory partner changes will be made after Genetics session 4.


Final Grade Calculation

A student’s final grade in 7.02 / 10.702 is determined based on his/her performance in three areas: exams; laboratory work; and SciComm. (See below for more details on grading in each area.)

These areas contribute to the final grade as follows:

Exams (One per Module) 50%
Laboratory Performance (Four Modules) 25%
Scientific Communication 25%


7.02 / 10.702 exams are one hour, are held during lecture time, and cover material from both lecture and laboratory. If for any reason you cannot make it to an exam, you must notify instructors.

Many students perform below their potential on their first exam. Often this is because the students fail to prepare effectively for the type of exam that is given in this course. Exams in 7.02 / 10.702 are not generally recall (memorizing) type exams - though there will likely be at least one “recall” question on each exam. Rather, our exam questions are designed to make you think about what you’ve learned in lecture and laboratory, and to apply it to a new situation. For example, we may ask you to analyze a set of data and formulate a model, or ask you to figure out how a change in the protocol might affect your results. If you have to do calculations in a particular module, there is a great chance that you will have to perform similar calculation on that module’s exam.

More information about studying for the exams as well as an example set of exam study questions can be found in the exams section.

Laboratory Performance

Your laboratory performance score will be assessed based on your written record of experimental procedures (laboratory notebook) (55%) and your in-lab skill (45%).

Information about the laboratory notebook score and in-lab skill score is provided in the labs section.


Your score in SciComm is determined by adding up your “in-class,” “out-of-class,” and “long term project” scores as follows:

  • In-class score: up to 20 points
  • Out-of-class scores: up to 30 points
  • Long Term Project score: up to 50 points

Thus, the maximum number of points a student can obtain in SciComm is 100 points (or a 100% SciComm average). For more details about the “in-class” and “out-of-class” writing assignments and the “long term project”, see the 7.02CI OCW Web site.

Course Policies

Attendance Policy

As noted in the course description, learning in 7.02 / 10.702 is very “hands on” - whether it is completing experiments in the teaching lab or working on in-class writing exercises in SciComm. Thus, most of the experiences cannot be replicated outside of the lab/classroom setting. For this reason, attendance at all laboratory, recitation, and SciComm sections is required.

Occasionally, an extraordinary circumstance may arise (illness, family emergency) that requires you to miss laboratory or SciComm. If you know that you will need to miss lab, you must contact the laboratory instructors and your laboratory partner. If you are going to miss your SciComm section meeting, you must contact your SciComm instructor. Absences from laboratory or SciComm will only be excused with a note from the Counseling Dean’s Office. Additionally, students that need to miss laboratory/SciComm for religious reasons will be accommodated, per MIT policy.

Students who miss laboratory without an excused absence will receive zero points for that day’s laboratory notebook entry and technique section. Students that miss SciComm will have points deducted from their “in-class” work score.

Note to Intercollegiate Athletes

The majority of laboratory exercises in 7.02 / 10.702 can be completed by 5 PM provided that you are organized and work efficiently in lab. There are a few days during the term, though, that are historically “long.” Please let one of the laboratory instructors know if you are an intercollegiate athlete so we can help you get to practice on time!

Policy on Making up Missed Laboratory/SciComm Time

There are no “makeup” laboratory days in 7.02 / 10.702, so there is usually no opportunity to make up a missed experiment. If you have an excused absence from laboratory, you are still responsible for completing laboratory notebook entries for days that you missed by the next laboratory period. This includes getting data and observations from your laboratory partner, obtaining interpretation questions from the course Web site, and obtaining any lecture/recitation notes from a classmate.

Students that miss SciComm must attend another meeting of the same topic (e.g. Introductions) with permission of their instructor.

Policy on Late Work

Students are responsible for completing their “prelab” notebook entry by 1:05 PM each lab day (that is, prior to the start of recitation or lab). Students may complete the data/observations and interpretations sections of their notebook at home, but these must be turned in by 1:05 PM on the next lab day. Late notebook entries will receive zero points.

SciComm assignments will be due almost every week of the semester, though you will only meet with your SciComm instructor every other week. The SciComm instructors will provide information on their late work policies at the first SciComm section meetings.

Academic Honesty and Use of Materials from Previous Terms

Students in 7.02 / 10.702 are expected to complete their own work, including (but not limited to) laboratory notebook entries, SciComm assignments, and exams. Discussion of data with laboratory partners and colleagues is permitted - as would be done in a research laboratory - but each student should write their own interpretations of the day’s work and answer his/her own interpretation questions.

7.02 / 10.702 exams are closed book/closed notes. Students caught with unauthorized material at the exam, providing unauthorized assistance, or receiving unauthorized assistance will receive a zero on the exam. Students requesting an exam regrade must do so within one week of when the exam was returned, and the exam must be accompanied by a completed “regrade request form” (available online). We will also photocopy exams before returning them.

Old laboratory notebook entries (from previous semesters) are not to be used as aids in writing up notebook entries. In many instances, the material changes from semester to semester, and thus it is often obvious to your TA that you have copied from someone else’s work. Students who are found to have copied from a previous semester’s notebook (or from their laboratory partner) will receive no credit for that assignment.

Students who behave in an academically dishonest manner will be penalized in 7.02 / 10.702 and may be referred to the Institute’s Committee on Discipline. If you have any questions about what is considered acceptable collaboration, please speak to one of the Instructors.

Laboratory Safety

The teaching laboratories are regulated by the same local, state, and federal regulations as MIT’s research laboratories. Students will be given a course safety manual and will receive safety instruction at various times during the semester, and are expected to follow the instructions of the staff on matters of safety and waste disposal. In addition, students are responsible for reading the standard operating procedure (SOP) for hazardous chemicals used in the laboratory as part of the preparation for laboratory each day. Students who have questions or concerns about laboratory safety should bring them to the attention of one of the Laboratory Instructors or the course, Safety Representative for 7.02 / 10.702.

Learning Resource Types
theaters Simulation Videos
theaters Demonstration Videos