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Summer SAVY 2022/Session 4 – Microbiology for Rising 5th/6th Grade

Posted by on Monday, July 11, 2022 in blog, SAVY.

Friday: Farewell Friday!!!

I can’t believe the week is already over. It feels like Monday was yesterday. Well, this last day of SAVY was packed full of experiments and results. To start off with, our corn GMO data is in. It appears that there was a slight increase of non-GMO corn being eaten with 46.8% (on average).

We also looked at the results from our fermentation yesterday and it totally worked! (see pictures). The milk turned to yogurt and the sugar was converted into alcohol by the yeast. We used the hydrometer and got a reading of 2-5% alcohol from each group (see picture). After ORA we went to the computer lab and did the Bio-Engineering Virtual lab. Everyone did a really good job and if your kid wants to do it again, here is the link. ( )

I have pictures of all the petri plates form yesterday that I forgot to add (see below). But after lunch we completed our final project, “Create your own GMO”.  Students go to present their ideas and you might consider asking them these questions as home. 1) What was the GMO you created? 2)What does your GMO do? 3)What type of genetic engineering tools did they use? (hint* mention maybe CRIPSR or Plasmids)  4) What Industry is it for and 5) What was your favorite thing you did this week?

After presentations of the final project, we had a silent auction and everyone voted for their favorites. I must say I was impressed! At the bottom of this post, I have also added several photos from our room! It was an honor to host your kids this week and to be honest you have some very smart kids! I hope they remember me so when they solve world hunger through genetic engineering, I can say I knew them!

Have a great summer everyone!



Thursday: Thursday has come and gone! Only one day left!

This morning we looked at the plates the students had swabbed from around the campus and boy were they gross! Everything from fungi to bacteria took root in the nutrient agar petri dishes (see microscope photos below). In the afternoon we discussed GMOs, and the ethics surrounding the manipulation of some more sensitive genetics. Students learned the pros and cons of different industrial biotechnology and presented their findings to the class. Students also created their own GMO and had to connect it to an Industry with a selling price, marketability, and 3D prototype (with playdough of course!). We will present our products tomorrow during a simulated gallery event! After lunch we went back to the computer lab to identify protein sequences using the 20 amino acids letter abbreviations (the product of DNA). Several students learned the letters in their name actually could be the sequence of a real-life protein! Then in the remaining few hours of SAVY time, we learned about fermentation and started our own yogurt cultures (lactic acid fermentation) and yeast cultures (sugar alcoholic fermentation). The pictures of the glass jugs (with S airlock on top) will be tested tomorrow with a hydrometer to determine the level of ethanol and how well the yeast did at finishing their dinner! I will be the taste tester for the yogurt…hmmm maybe not.

See you all tomorrow for the FINAL DAY of FUN!

Wednesday: Welcome parents and Microbiologists!

Today we went down manipulation highway and landed smack dab in the middle of GMO city. We learned what genetic engineers do and how to create modifications with techniques like plasmid restriction enzyme cutting and CRISPR. Adding genes or cutting them out of genomes can create some crazy stuff if we are not careful! Students also looked at the microbes around them by swabbing classroom items such as door handles, laptop keyboards and desks. We will compare these samples to the ones we collected from outside to see where the microbes are! Microbes will be placed in Dr. O’s lab (see picture) for incubation and a good night’s sleep! (ask your student to see if they remembered what temperature we set it at). Lastly, we went to the computer lab and looked up both the NCBI and Pubmed databases (students got to see sequenced organisms and the scientist who published it) Tomorrow we will put it all together and discuss how we could potentially engineer our specimens to work for us!

P.S. We have some preliminary results on the corn experiment, and it looks like one of the students already had one of the cobs completely eaten…leaving one of them untouched?!?! Results to follow on Friday!

Tuesday: Hello parents!

Sorry we missed you Monday, but over the past 2 days we have all become honorary microbiologists! On the first day we learned everything about microbes, living organisms, cells, and DNA. We collected our own living and non-living specimens and examined them under the microscope (see pictures attached). We also extracted DNA from wheat germ (picture of green liquid) and build 3D double stranded DNA models! Today we got to tour VANTAGE, the DNA sequencing center here at Vanderbilt  and learned how the pattern of DNA bases A,T,C and G are translated into proteins. We also introduced the concept of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and how these can be beneficial but might also have a downside… See you all tomorrow for a deep dive into the manipulation of microbial world and how that translate into Industrial needs!


Students took home 2 ears of corn today. Please help them find a spot outside where squirrels can find them. One corn is GMO and one is non-GMO. We want to see if backyard animals can tell the difference!