Summer SAVY Session 1, Day 1 – Dabbling with DNA
Day 1: Good evening! The first day of Dabbling with DNA was successful. We have an enthusiastic group of students who are very interested in science, eager to learn about DNA, and share their thoughts on science and just about anything else. After introductions, and sharing one or many talents, we spent the morning talking about science, what it is, and how it differs from other fields of study. The students were then asked to think about the different fields within science and where DNA fits in (i.e., chemistry and biology). Next, they were asked to think about the similarities and differences between living and nonliving matter and think of examples. Some were confused by the idea of something dying, and that it was possible to be living matter at one time but then not living matter. There was debate about whether the apple I had was still alive. We finished up the morning with the diversity of life and looked at cells of plants (Elodea), animals (cheek cells), protists (in pond water), and fungi (mold). They very much enjoyed using the microscopes and wanted to look at various inanimate objects as well.
After lunch, we finished up the discussion of biodiversity and then turned our attention to extracting DNA from strawberries. This is a classic biology lab and as you may remember, strawberries have a lot of DNA, and it is very easy and safe to extract. They were surprised at how it looked (like snot) and of course eager to look at it under the microscope. We talked about the chemistry of the extraction process and the role that soap, salt, and isopropyl alcohol play in extracting DNA from cells. Tomorrow we will spend most of our time on Mendelian genetics with lots of Punnett squares and learning about the nature of heredity. They will also work on a family tree. Thank you for sharing your wonderful children with us, I think we’re going to have a good week.
Mr. Gary Schott