Attempting to foster mastery learning for students in the biological sciences, we incorporated an authentic research-based activity that contained real-world applications. To do this, we redesigned a laboratory component of a junior level, general genetics course. This included lengthening the time for the experiment, incorporating new technology for data analyses, and generating new assessments. These changes led to a more collaborative and interactive environment. Students were given the challenge of inducing a phenotypic change within the model organism, Paramecium . This allowed students to design their own experimental approaches. We assessed the students on formative and summative levels to determine if they were accomplishing the learning outcomes. Students demonstrated they were successful in meeting these, which included mastering a set of laboratory skills, designing their own experiment, and incorporating technology needed for data collection and analyses.