Young Scientists Explore Secrets of DNA

Arnav Srivastava ’19
EE Co-opinions Editor

On Tuesday, May 23, Mr. Winters’ AP Biology Class and Dr. Goodman’s Agriscience and Biotechnology Honors Biology Classes represented THS at Dolan DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Although the drive was long, it was well worth it: as Christina On explains, “the trip was an eye opening experience because we got to do things we wouldn’t usually do in a regular classroom environment, and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.”

Upon reaching the Center, students began their learning experience with a hands on laboratory experiment. Students were given the opportunity to expand their science skills by inserting the gene GFP from a jellyfish, which when expressed gives the organism a green bioluminescent property when exposed to UV light, into a strain of E. Coli bacteria. The goal was to experiment with recombinant DNA, and give the E. Coli the desired glowing property by manipulating its system and modifying its genetic code. James Dubreuil admits “it made feel like a real and professional scientist despite being a sophomore. It was really neat seeing a studied concept come together and physically witness an impactful change made by science.” The experiment consisted of professional tools and methods, and was able to give a truly insightful look into a science research-based career.

Next, following lunch, the students were able to watch an educational video about DNA, and its amazingly complex yet crucial functions. The video reinforced and expanded on the in-school education given on DNA, with realistic and visual examples of DNA at work.

Finally, students then took a tour of the Cold Spring Harbor Campus, about a mile away from the DNA Learning Center. Students were split into three groups, and guided around the area by knowledgeable graduate students. “I really enjoyed the tour -” describes Mike Catuccio, “it was interesting to learn about all the workings of a research laboratory.” Cold Spring Harbor has a rich history, with its multiple research facilities making extremely significant breakthroughs to science over the years. The laboratories have had numerous Nobel Science Prize winners, with extremely important discoveries such as the double-helix structure of DNA (by Watson and Crick) and the phenomenon of RNA splicing (by Roberts and Sharp). Students were enthralled by the rich history, amazing progress, and beautiful scenery of Cold Spring Harbor during the tour, making the field trip even more memorable and worthwhile.

Afterwards, students headed to the bus back home with a better understanding of genetics and DNA, bringing along some pretty cool bacteria to be cultured, and even cooler memories.

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