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Summer SAVY 2018: Session 1, Day 4 – Dabbling with DNA, Dr. O (Rising 3rd and 4th)

Posted by on Thursday, June 14, 2018 in Grade 3, Grade 4, SAVY.

Well parents and students, we are down to the last day! SAVY came and went so fast.

‪We started off the morning by taking both dabbling with DNA sessions to the on-site sequencing lab here at Vanderbilt called VANTAGE. The students got to see all the high tech computers that actually read the DNA codes. Some of these machines can cost in upwards of 1 million dollars!

‪Students also started their virtual bioengineering lab at This simulation lets them see how to make a GMO, more specifically, E. coli, and how the colors purple, magenta and cyan are inserted into their DNA. After the theoretical portion we got to actually use these modified E. coli and spread them out on petri plates which your student should have… oh joy! (details at bottom)

‪We finally got to see the petri plates that contained microbial specimens from around the room…(they had been stewing in my car in the heat for 2 days!) Needless to say they looked pretty gross.

‪Then the last portion of the day was spent talking about amino acids and how we can search their sequences in databases such as NCBI. Students had a BLAST (no pun intended) creating their own words from the 20 amino acids and seeing what organism it belonged to.

‪I have had an amazing week and you should be very proud of your young scientists.

‪Thanks again for coming and see everyone tomorrow!

-Dr. O



‪This will be my last blog post and I have some special instructions to give you and your student:

‪First, the petri dish they are bringing home contains E. coli (the good kind). The E. coli have been genetically modified to contain either a purple, cyan, or magenta color. You will not see the color until it grows, which will take about a week at room temp or 3-4 days at temperatures above 80F. The lids have been taped down for safety and after they are finished viewing them at home the petri plates can be tossed in the trash. Store petri plates upside down with lid on bottom to reduce the amount of condensation on your bacteria.

‪Second, please bring a usb thumb drive tomorrow to download your student’s physical traits graphs. I will have them downloaded to my computer and I can copy them to any thumb drive you bring. The students have spent a lot of work designing them and will want to print them at home. Unfortunately, we only can print black and white.