Exploring Vaccines with ELISA

In this lesson, students perform an ELISA to see how well a vaccine works. They are presented with two vaccines that are being developed to target a new COVID variant and recommend which should move forward into the next phase of testing. They consider multiple factors when comparing the vaccines, including immune response (as measured by antibody concentration from the ELISA) and characteristics that contribute to vaccine access, like storage temperature and side effects.

In the lab portion, students learn how to perform serial dilutions and create a standard curve to determine the antibody concentrations in the blood samples of the vaccine clinical trial participants. This is a mock ELISA that uses a Lowry protein assay technique to simulate antibody results.

This lab was originally developed for Futurelab+, funded by Genentech. Check out the free curriculum here!”

 Learning Objectives

  • Measure antibody concentration using serial dilution and ELISA.
  • Explain how vaccines trigger an immune response in the body to protect against illness and describe factors that affect vaccine access.
  • Support an argument with evidence for which of two new COVID vaccines is a stronger candidate.

 Prior Knowledge

  • Experience with micropipetting
  • Familiarity with solving linear equations (y=mx+b)
  • Experience creating graphs using spreadsheet software




In order to access any Curriculum resource, please or sign up if you haven't already done so.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • LS1.A – Structure and Function
    “Systems of specialized cells within organisms help them perform the essential functions of life.”

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Arguing from Evidence
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Structure and Function

In order to access any Curriculum resource, please or sign up if you haven't already done so.

Amanda Cherry
Paradise Valley HS
Phoenix, AZ

The curriculum materials are beautifully prepared and easy to understand-thanks for preparing such great resources that are easy to use.

Byron Gougoumis
Burton HS
San Francisco, CA

All Babec labs are well organised and modelled effectively with clear, helpful procedural instructions, easily transposed to the classroom.

Gianne Souza
Lincoln HS
San Francisco, CA

The online resources are SO well done! The best I have ever had. Very little modification to make them clear and easy to follow. I have done two BABEC lessons and they are so well made that they made teaching online fun again.

Heather Johnson
Burlingame HS
Burlingame, CA

When doing the BABEC labs I consistently hear students say they feel like "real scientists."

Marianne Gudmundsson
Glenbrook South HS
Glenview, IL

Well organized and scaffolded; flexible structure and can be used partially or as a whole. This unit can be used as is...superbly written and thought out...incorporates many skills and allows student collaboration and student choice/voice.

Rocky Ng
South San Francisco HS
South San Francisco, CA

Thank you for creating these curriculum materials. I am beyond grateful for the quality lessons, on-the-point figures/videos, and easy-to-navigate biotechnology curriculum.

Thi Ngo
Capuchino HS
San Bruno, CA

The level of support really made the whole process easier and encouraged me to continue incorporating biotech into my curriculum. Thank you for the live assistance during the labs and for responding to inquiries so promptly and with such urgency.

Anonymous Teacher

Really well thought out curricula. Great to see "old" activities that have been re-imagined with lots of consideration to NGSS.

Anonymous Teacher

This was the best educational workshop I have had the honor of attending, and I am so thankful.

Anonymous Teacher

Wonderfully executed. Strengthened my skills. Thank you!!

Anonymous Teacher

BABEC has such a strong positive impact on teachers and students - thank you for your amazing work!